July 28, 2003 - The FIVB $1 million World Grand Prix resumed on Monday with a star-studded cast of six line-ups, talons drawn for the final battle for the title in this elite women's annual Volleyball competition.
Netherlands defeated Italy in a draining five set marathon here in the sweltering south of Italy in a match that will surely cost both teams heavily in energy in the coming days, Russia coasted through at Korea's expense while China sent USA away tired and empty-handed to round up the day's matches .
Italy had a solid start but then the Netherlands came back to squeeze everything out of the e World Champions to run off
3-2 (25-23, 25-23, 36-34, 19-17) winners in two hours and eight exhausting minutes.
Netherlands coach Angelo Frigoni of Italy said he is team did not play well in the first two sets. "Anyway," he added. "My team never gave up and they kept on believing in the win. Our aim was staying amongst the first six classified teams of this competition and I'm satisfied with the result so far."
Netherlands' Francien Huurman had a superb match with 33 points, including 32 attacks to be the overwhelming top scorer of the match.
The USA, world champion silver medallists in 2003 had a huge clash with the "Great Wall" of China in Monday's final match of this round robin format which proved to be skilful and entertaining and ripe with tactics, despite the fact that China walked off 3-0 (25-21, 26-24, 28-26) winners.
"We were very good blocking and defense tonight," the Chinese coach Chen Zhonghe said, while the Japanese coach who leads the USA team agreed that his team had, unfortunately, made their mistakes "at crucial moments".
Until now in this edition, the USA has only incurred one defeat against their adversaries Italy in a five-setter on Saturday.
In other action Russia over-ran the diminutive Korean 3-0 (25-15, 25-23, 25-16) in a one-sided scuffle 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.
Although the Koreans celebrated each of their winning shot as though it was a match winner, they were outfoxed and out played throughout the match.
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.