Russia stun Brazil for Volleyball gold - London 2012 - Volleyball
Russia became the first team in the history of men's Olympic Volleyball to win the final from two sets down as they stunned Brazil 3-2 at Earls Court this afternoon.
So easy was their march to victory looking that at 2-0 and 22-19 they sent on retiring captain Giba - a virtual spectator in London due to injury - to allow him the privilege of being on court when the medal was won.
That proved to be a bad move as Russia embarked on one of the most staggering comebacks the sport has seen to wrap up a fourth Olympic Volleyball title.
The final scoresheet read: 19-25, 20-25, 29-27, 25-22, 15-9.
Dmitriy Muserskiy used every part of his tall frame to plunder a match-winning 31 points.
On the other side, Brazil were no longer quick around the court and the previously-excellent Sergio could not feed Bruno who would in turn tee up Wallace and Murilo at the net.
The change was remarkable and a far cry from the start of the game when Brazil were desperate to ride the wave of support started by their victorious female counterparts last night.
They got out to 8-5 in front when the first time-out arrived, mixing some thunderous hitting from Wallace with some more delicate touches from Murilo as Russia failed to settle.
There was no stopping the duo - even a run of three Russia points on the serve of Sergey Tetyukhin made no difference - and when Wallace spiked his fifth point of the set, Brazil took it 25-19.
There was no let-up at the start of the second set either, despite Russia getting an early jump to 2-0. A brilliant block from Sidnei made it 2-2 and then the fine serving of he and Wallace got their side firmly in command at 8-4.
A theme had certainly emerged, with Russia doing their best to hit Brazil off the court only to be denied by Sergio, whose stunning defensive work would pave the way to a thunderous winner at the net.
The score got out to 22-17 when Dante Amaral's kill block won a back-and-forth thriller and, when the same player cracked a spike off Maxim Mikhaylov's fingertips, the set was won 25-20.
Knowing the grave nature of their situation, there appeared to be a greater steel about Russia at the start of the third set and they led at the first time-out, with Muserskiy finally imposing himself on the game with two telling spikes as they edged to 8-7.
A winner and a kill from Sidnei, and then a pair of spikes from Wallace spun the set back around in Brazil's favour and, although Sergey Grankin blocked to level at 15-all, Murilo got Brazil ahead at the second time-out.
It was all or nothing for Russia, and as Brazil shook a little they pounced, recovering from 22-19 to 22-22 and then, despite letting two set points slip through their fingers, eventually took it 29-27 when Muserskiy got an error out of Murilo.
The tables had turned at the start of the fourth, with Russia dictating the pace and picking up points on their own terms, with Maxim Mikhaylov's blocking putting them 8-7 up at the first break.
They continued to dominate after that, leading 15-12 when Brazil were hauled off the court for time-out, with serves going long and spikes persistently shut down.
It was one-way traffic and Russia duly took the set 25-22 before opening up a 3-1 lead in the decider when Amaral hit long.
And when in the fifth set a block from unsuspecting libero Alexey Obmochaev dropped in as a winner, the game was up at 12-6 and eventually Russia closed it out at 15-9.
Earlier in the day, Italy ended the Games on a high by taking the bronze medal with a 3-1 win over Bulgaria.
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 four years ago.
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.