Tehran, Iran, July 3, 2016 - Serbia beat Italy 3-2 (25-19, 25-18, 19-25, 22-25, 17-15) on Sunday, winning their first World League 2016 out of three in Tehran.
Italy and Serbia (including Serbia and Montenegro) had previously met 29 times in the World League. Italy have won 13 times. Serbia have won on 16 occasions but it was Italy who won the last meeting 3-2 on 15 July 2015.
The opening set started even with the teams going point for point. The set reached the first technical time-out with 8-7 for Serbia who increased the gap to 11-8. Italy did great in reception but Kovacevic shone in attack for Serbia. He led his team to a 25-19 win in the set.
Italy started the second set in much brighter fashion and led 8-6 at the first technical time-out. However, Serbia soon recovered to build a five-point lead at the second technical time-out and calmly closed out the set at 25-18.
Italy found themselves in front again at the beginning of the third set and led 8-3 at the first technical time-out. Italy’s excellent digs and a decreased number of errors allowed Italy to take command of the set. They maintened their lead until a 25-19 victory.
The fourth set was very close with Serbia managing a narrow 16-14 lead at the second technical time-out. Zaytsev equalized at18-18. He also led his team in money time out and finished the set at 25-22.
The fight continued in the tiebreak despite both teams having already qualified to Final Six in Krakow. Serbia stared strongly taking a 7-4 lead. Italy did not give up, however, and soon Zaytsev made it even at 10-10. However, it was Serbia who controlled their nerves better as they finished the set at 17-15.
Uros Kovacevic accumulated 18 for Serbia, while Ivan Zaytsev scored impressive 30 for the losing side.