Serbia beat Slovenia to win 2019 Men’s European Championships in Paris
Serbia have won the men's European Volleyball Championships for the first time since 2011 after they beat Slovenia in Paris, France, on Sunday night.
In front of 13,000 fans at the AccorHotels Arena in Paris, the Serbians came from a set down to win 3-1 (19-25, 25-16, 25-18, 25-20).
When co-hosts Slovenia won the first set thoughts turned to whether they could pull off a third major upset in a row, after they had knocked out defending champions Russia in the quarter-finals and reigning world champions Poland in the semi-finals. However Serbia were quick to react and promptly won the next three sets to take the match and title in just under two hours.
The winners were led by tournament MVP Uros Kovacevic (20 points) and top scorer of the final Aleksandar Atanasijevic (22), with captain Nemanja Petric fittingly bringing it home with a thundering, unreturnable ace for match point.
Slovenia were surprise finalists and roared on by a large contingent of their own fans saw Alen Pajenk and Jan Kozamernik dominate in the opening set, scoring 100 per cent of their attempts, and finished the game with 12 and nine points respectively. However just when it looked as though they had the momentum, Serbia upped their game in the second set and never looked back.
The 2011 European champions won the second set in convincing fashion and surged into a 7-1 lead in the third set, and though Slovenia did their best to stem the tide, the match now only had one course.
Serbia saw the match out for their third European crown – having won in 2001 as Yugoslavia – while Slovenia matched their previous best finish of runner-up from 2015 when they lost to France.
The victory also sees Serbia avenge their World Championship disappointment from last year when they finished fourth and missed out on a medal.
World champions Poland finished third at the Championships after defeating co-hosts France in straight sets in Paris. In front of around 7,000 home fans again at the AccorHotels Arena, the match was tighter than the 3-0 scoreline might suggest, however the 2009 European champions triumphed in under an hour and a half, winning 26-24, 25-22, 25-21.
The victory means Poland achieved their best finish at a European Championship since finishing third in 2011, whilst France finish the competition without a medal.