Volleyball: Italy win bronze medal with win over Bulgaria

Italy 3 Bulgaria 1 (25-19, 23-25, 25-22, 25-20)

Italy succeeded where they failed four years ago as they ended the London Games on a high by taking the bronze medal in men's volleyball.

Mauro Berruto's men gamely shrugged off the disappointment of their semi-final whitewash at the hands of Brazil to take third prize - something they failed to do after a last-four defeat in Beijing.

They were helped on their way by a clearly jaded Bulgaria, whose approach to the Olympics appeared to have been an all-or-nothing one.

Still smarting from their defeat to Russia on Friday, the Bulgarians were unable to find any rhythm and as a result were unable to send departing coach Nayden Naydenov off with a medal.

He is standing down after just seven weeks in charge, with his exit the latest chapter in Bulgaria's chaotic story. Former boss Radostin Stoychev resigned twice during qualification and the lack of stability is a shame for such a talented group of players.

They did not show their prowess today, though, with Italy wrapping up a fifth volleyball Games medal.

Cristian Savani, who was unable to carry Italy against Brazil as he has done for most of the tournament, returned to form today, leaving the court with 23 points while Michal Lasko weighed in with 18.

They won 11 points on serve compared to Bulgaria's solitary one and, with Vladimir Nikolov and Todor Aleksiev their joint top-scorers with 12 each, their opponents were undone on account of low aggression and intensity levels.

It was a game too far for Bulgaria, although the freshness of the youthful squad Naydenov cobbled together should stand them in good stead for tournaments to come.

PA

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