July 23, 2003 - Russia rolled out the heavy artillery on Wednesday night and battled their way through five sets to blast Brazil off the court in one of the most powerful matches so far in this year's edition of the World Grand Prix while in other action the USA took just 75 minutes to wrap up their crisp 3-0 victory against the Netherlands to retain their unbeaten record in the competition so far.
Then, in the final match of the night, the youthful Cubans pushed and defeated hosts and World Champions Italy 3-2 (16-25, 22-25, 27-25, 25-20, 15-12), which as their first victory will not help them much to advance, but could be a turning point for Italy, now with only a 1-2 win loss ratio.
Russia settled their match 3-2 (25-16, 20-25, 25-17, 21-15 and 15-13) with coach Nikolai Karpol fielding his starting six and working them on the court for the entire match. Captain Euvguenia Artamonova powered home a massive 25 points in what was a do or die match for the already once defeated title-holders.
"It was very important for us to win the match, so we were very concentrated," Artamonova said after the victory."
Brazil's coach Marco Motta remained cool after the defeat saying: "A defeat does not compromise our possibility to take the title."
The Americans were in great form to settle their 3-0 (25-23, 25-20, 25-15) score with Netherlands, who were feeling the strain of a long five setter on Tuesday night against hosts Italy. Danielle Scott, Nancy Metcalf and Prikeba Phipps led the US charge as the Americans took increasingly firm control of the match as it progressed. The 2002 World Championship silver medalists and join China as the only teams in this 12-team tournament that are still unbeaten.
Meanwhile, China consolidated their position in the competition with an easy victory over the smaller and less experienced Thailand 3-0 25-11, 25-22, 25-10 to vault to the top of Pool B ahead of Russia and Brazil in second and third places.
In other action Germany powered home against Japan for a 3-1 (25-13, 17-25, 26-24, 25-21) victory to move them up to second place on the Pool A table and well within range of advancing to the next phase. German captain Angelina Grün contributed 26 points to again be top scorer.Honors for top scorer however went to Elles Leferink of the Netherlands with 15 attack points from 24 attempts, while Scott for the USA put on 14 points.
Angelo Frigioni, Italian coach of the Dutch team praised the Americans who he said were strong in attack and defense. "Perhaps my girls were still thinking about their match against Italy," he said.
Canada also put up a tenacious, if unsuccessful battle with Korea in other early action, finally allowing the Koreans a 3-1 (25-18, 18-25, 25-13, 25-23) victory. Canada had flashes of brilliance and indeed made the Koreans work for their victory particularly in the closing set.