Matera, Italy, July 28, 2003 – Height was might in the FIVB World Grand Prix
match between Russia and Korea on Monday where the smaller set Koreans were
chanceless to break through the Russian wall and were virtually left to scrape
up points when the Russian women had a lapse of concentration.
“We played very concentrated today,” said Russia’s Ekaterina Artamova.
Russia opened by dominating the first set and took an overwhelming lead of
eight points at 18-11, making it a one team match through to the final 25-15.
The gutsy Koreans held their own in the opening minutes of the second set and
even held a slender lead at 8-7 and extended that to 10-8. They were even
beginning to look less intimidated. Then the Russian defense was propped up
with the 204 cm Ekateria Gamova to level at 13-all.
The Russians were 17-15 up but every point won by the enthusiastic Koreans was
treated like a match winner.
Gamova blocked to make it 21-19 but the Koreans defended her service for 21-
20. Anastasia Belekova unleashed the shot that had the Koreans on the run and
set point in the bag for Russia. Korea’s Kim Mi Jin defied gravity to save it
but then Russia closed the set 25-23.
Korea continued to try to penetrate the Russian defense, but the ball danced
tantalizingly atop of the fingers of the immensely tall Russians and they opened
a two point lead at 8-6 in the vital third.
Two good tactical points by Korea narrowed the Russian lead to just three
points, which they extended to 16-11 and were on their way to a 3-0 (25-15, 25-
23, 25-16) victory.
In the end it wasn’t just height, but also superior skills and tactics that
won the match for Russia who all too often had the Koreans flatfooted while
they found exactly the vacant spot on the court to hammer home their winners.
Russia’s Elizaveta Tishchenko top scored for the match with 17 points.
“We tried everything but in the end they were just too tall,” said Korean
captain Choi Kwang Hee. Her coach Kim Cheoi Yong was more philosophical
” For the rest of the tournament we will just have to try to relax and win
when we can,” he said.