Serbia capped a perfect campaign at the 2017 edition of the women’s EuroVolley with a 3-1 victory over the Netherlands (25-20, 25-22, 18-25, 25-18) to claim their second European title in history – to go with the gold medal they won at home in Belgrade in 2011. The ‘grand finale’ of the tournament was a truly exciting match, with the best of women’s Volleyball on offer – but Serbia were too much to stand even for the highly motivated Dutch team, who could be happy with winning back-to-back silver medals from Europe’s premier Volleyball competition. Only three years after claiming the U19 European title, Serbia’s superstar Tijana Bošković can call herself a ‘senior’ European champion at the age of 20 – crowning her journey in the competition with the award for the Most Valuable Player of the tournament.
The Netherlands and Serbia added another chapter to their rivalry – but for the first time there was as much at stake as the continental crown. They had crossed swords only a week earlier in the pool phase in Ganja – where Serbia had stormed to a 3-0 victory, one of four such wins out of the five matches they had contested at #EuroVolleyW going into the ‘grand finale’. Both these teams stand out for the depth and quality of their roster – and this became obvious from the early stages of the match with the Netherlands claiming a very small edge (8-6) before Serbia slowly but surely increased their tempo (17-14) with Tijana Bošković, Brankica Mihajlović and Stefana Veljković all rising to the occasion. Their block was working just fine and they played with such an intensity that even the highly motivated Dutchwomen could not keep up with such impressive pace (25-20).
The Netherlands put up a fight – as much as they had done back in the pool game – and looked much determined not to make life easy for Serbia. However, the ‘Oranjes’ were not able to stand the challenge brought by their mighty opponents – who spiked powerfully and cleverly from every angle to double their lead in the match (25-22).
The team coached by Jamie Morrison played courageously in the third set – their efforts resulting in 10-6 and 13-8 advantages, which looked promising towards cementing their chances of re-opening the fate of the game. A five-point lead at the second technical timeout was something to capitalise on for the Netherlands – and they did so as they dominated the late stages of the set (25-18).
Serbia’s had just dropped their second set in the tournament but their scoring machine promptly resumed its march in the fourth set – and this applied especially to the likes of Bošković, Mihajlović and Veljković. However, the Netherlands fought with all they had, thus contributing to some of the most spectacular and entertaining rallies the audience witnessed in the match. Veljković stamped a monster block on Celeste Plak to make it 14-11 Serbia’s way and shortly afterwards Bošković added a single block on Anne Buijs to extend the Serbian lead. It was just the opposite than in the previous set – this time Serbia had a five-point advantage at the second technical break and they were not to stop anymore with MVP Bošković deservedly sealing their 3-1 victory (25-18).