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World champions USA sweep Pool C with tiebreak win over Russia

 
Kobe, Japan, October 4, 2018 - The United States showed that they were in no mood to let go of their World Championship crown by defeating Russia 3-2 in the last match of Pool C at Kobe Green Arena on Thursday evening. The Americans, who won the world title for the first time in 2014, beat the 2006 and 2010 world champions Russia 19-25, 25-20, 26-24, 12-25, 15-11 to complete a perfect 5-0 win-loss record in the first stage. Russia slipped to 4-1.

Four American players scored in double figures led by Kimberly Hill with 19, Jordan Larson and Foluke Akinradewo with 16 and Kelly Murphy with 14. Akinradewo notched four of the USA's 13 block points.

Nataliya Goncharova led the Russian reply with an incredible 36 points, including 35 spikes, and Kseniia Parubets added 16.

Russia led 8-3 at the first TTO and reached the second TTO ahead 16-9 after some left-wing blows from Kseniia Parubets and a crunching block by captain Evgeniya Startseva. Russia's points machine, Nataliya Goncharova, was having to work hard to produce clean spikes as the American defence closed her down.

In reply, Kimberly Hill showed good early form and Kelly Murphy pulled off a stunning block on Parubets before scoring with her trademark razor-sharp southpaw spike.

Goncharova began to find her range towards the end of the first set and scored eight spikes as Russia came home 25-19 on their first set point. Parubets was not far behind with seven spikes.

In the second set, USA middle blocker Foluke Akinradewo showed her attacking prowess as she combined finesse with power and Hill scored with a soaring winner from the back court.

A lightning finish at the net by Karsta Lowe and another winner from captain Jordan Larson, who was having a very influential match, took the Americans into the second TTO ahead 16-11. A brilliant dig by setter Micha Hancock set up Lowe for another cracking winner and a Sarah Wilhite ace sent Russia into a TO trailing 19-12.

Irina Voronkova and Irina Koroleva kept Russia in touch and Startseva scored an ace up the right side but Russia were running out of time to close the gap, even with Goncharova slicing through the USA defence. The USA block took them to 24-19 and they finished the second set 25-20 for 1-1.

Hill, with a team-high nine points through the first two sets, kept up this good form in the third, while Russia's Parubets was being blocked out of the game after her excellent first set.

Akinradewo cranked up the power as the set progressed and Lowe blazed away from the right to force Russia into a TO down 13-11. Wilhite's serving caused more problems for the Russian reception.

In a tight finish, the United States took the third set 26-24 on their second set point to lead 2-1.

Voronkova was enjoying one of her best games of the tournament and, together with Irina Fetisova, gave Russia a solid start to the fourth set, leading 16-7 at the second TTO.

The Russians were in control and, when Koroleva spiked at the net, they led 20-9 before closing out the set 25-12 for 2-2 with some clean Parubets spikes down the left.

The United States, with Akinradewo taking control, started the tiebreak with renewed vigour and the leader Larson made sure they turned around with a healthy lead 8-3.

Trailing 11-5, Russia called their second TO and were greeted on their return by a Gibbemeyer monster block. The United States won it 15-11 when Parubets spiked wide.


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