08 August 2023 | in Summer FISU World University Games
Italy celebrates after winning their second straight FISU Games men’s volleyball gold
Italy and Poland had been waiting for Monday night’s men’s volleyball final at Xipu Campus Gymnasium since Day 1 of the Chengdu FISU World University Games.
Actually, the European rivals had their eyes on a rematch since the Italians captured the last FISU title on home soil thanks to a five-set win over the Poles at Napoli 2019.
“I am looking for revenge, I just cannot wait for Monday’s game,” said Lukasz Kozub after Poland’s semifinal victory against Iran on Sunday.
Unfortunately for the Polish team captain, history repeated itself in the 2023 final as Italy prevailed 25-23, 25-18, 28-26.
Francesco Recine (Italy)“Another gold, it’s crazy, amazing! We wanted this medal and we got it,” said Italian captain Francesco Recine.
“We prepared for the match by watching videos of our opponents. And of course, sleeping and eating well,” explained Recine, also a 2021 European championship gold medallist.
It was a tough battle, with solid blocks and heavy hits from two very focused sides.
“It was a very good match. We battled at the net, we served very well, and we broke a lot of plays. We love this, and we won thanks to this,” added Recine.
As soon as Italy scored the game-winning point, all team members rushed the floor to celebrate. And soon after, they headed to the tribunes to share their joy with the entire Italian delegation.
Maciej Krysiak hitting for Poland in the men’s gold medal match
“Our team is crazy. We are old friends from when we were younger, and we always support each other. So, friends and family,” said a smiling Recine.
Most athletes have “rituals” they go through before a big game or competition. This is also the case for the winning captain.
“I always wear the same sleeve and underwear,” said the outside hitter with a laugh.
Asked about the message he wanted to send to all the people who supported the team, Recine said, “Grazie per tutto,” meaning thanks for everything.
For his part, Poland’s Dawid Tomasz Woch was philosophical about the loss.
“I feel that the silver will be satisfying when we get back to Poland, but now I’m a little disappointed.
“I know that it’s a big tournament and we played really well. We didn’t lose even one set in the group stage, quarterfinal and semifinal.”
In the bronze-medal game, China defeated Iran 3-0 in front of local fans who cheered and chanted “Let’s go China” from start to finish, and even sang Happy Birthday to team member Li Yongzhen.
“It’s my first time celebrating my birthday under this kind of atmosphere. The Chengdu fans and all the staff in the venue are incredible. I want to say thank you for the gifts,” said Ningbo University student.
“Today we tried to do our best and have a strong spirit, and luckily we succeeded.”