Tokyo, Japan, November 14, 2010 - Russia captured their second straight FIVB Women's World Championship and seventh overall by defeating top-ranked Brazil in a five-set marathon (21-25, 25-17, 20-25, 25-14, 15-11) in front of a full house of 12,000 fans at the 2010 FIVB Women's World Championship at Yoyogi National Stadium in Tokyo on Sunday.
It was a case of history repeating itself as for the second consecutive World Championship, Russia had edged Brazil in Japan in the final match of this quadrennial competition. Overall, Russia have now recorded 19 wins and 17 losses against their South American rivals.
The towering Ekaterina Gamova was literally head and shoulders above the rest of the players, including her team-mates, as she finished the match with 35 points, including four blocks and two serving aces. The Russian ace punished the opposition with a 54.7 percentage of success (29-for-53) with her attacks. Liubov Shashkova, Maria Perepelkina and Tatiana Kosheleva contributed 14, 13 and 10 points respectively. Sheilla Castro topped the scoring for Brazil with 26 points, while Natalia Pereira added 18 including five blocks. Jaqueline Carvalho chipped in with 16 tallies.
Showing no sign of fatigue from their epic marathon against Japan on Saturday night, Brazil roared ahead 10-3 in the first set, igniting a samba party among hundreds of Brazilian fans wearing yellow and green. Shashkova led Russia back to 13-10 down before Brazil called a time-out. With the teams trading blows, Fabiana blocked the 202cm Gamova to put Brazil up 16-13 and when Russia failed to rein in Jaqueline's spike, the lead rose to 20-15.
Coach Vladimir Kuzyutkin called a time-out but Russia soon served their way back into the set, inching to within one point at 21-20 and when a call went against Jaqueline, Russia had parity. It did not last, Brazil edging back in front before Sheilla's tip was deflected out to give the South Americans the opening set at 25-21.
With Russia up 7-4 in the second set, Sheilla and Gamova each showed their scoring power to move the score on to 8-5. Maria Borodakova twice foiled Brazilian spikes as Russia went 10-6 ahead but after they blocked Jaqueline, Sheilla finally penetrated the Russian wall to narrow the gap to 11-8. Yet Kuzyutkin's side remained on top, forcing Brazil coach Jose Roberto Guimaraes to call a time-out at 13-8.
Brazil responded with three straight points for 13-11 but Perepelkina, prowling around the net, thwarted two more opposition attacks to put Russia up 16-11. Even after a time-out, Brazil continued to struggle to get past the Russian defensive barrier and when Fabiola tipped wide, Russia's lead was extended to 20-12.
Trying to alter their attack as they did with success in the semifinals, Brazil found Fabiana on the right and it worked. Natalia made a brilliant diving save with the top of her hand, which Brazil converted, as they scrapped their way back to 20-15. With the crowd chanting "Sassa, Sassa", she served a point which Brazil won on a Jaqueline swat. Yet the towering Gamova hit a winner from the right to calm her side, and Shashkova pelted a spike from the left to give Russia a 22-16 advantage. When Natalia missed wide, the defending champions had at set point and Shashkova's right-wing salvo sealed the set at 25-17.
The roller-coaster ride continued in the third set as Brazil roared back with positive new tactics. Instead of feeding Natalia and Sheilla, they fed quick sets to Fabiana, who had only scored two points in the first two sets but now responded with three quick points to take Brazil up 8-6 at the break. Jaqueline, playing on pure passion, blocked Gamova and twirled with delight, taking Brazil to 10-6.
She pummelled a hit off the left wing to extend Brazil's advantage to 11-6, while Startseva smartly redirected a quick set into space for 11-7. Kosheleva served long for 12-8, but Gamova won one back for her side at 12-9. When Sheilla aced Russia down the right side, Brazil were 15-10 in front and Russia lost a close call at the net soon after to make it 16-11.
Thaisa and Sheilla took Brazil to 20 points by blocking Russia's left-wing salvo for a 20-14 lead and although Gamova then blocked two in a row for Russia (20-17), Natalia delivered a monstrous hit to keep Brazil moving ahead at 21-18. After a Russian time-out, Natalia's reflexes at the net kept the ball alive, and Sheilla responded by hammering it off Shashkova's face, dazing the Russian veteran momentarily. Showing great sportsmanship, Sheilla graciously gave Shashkova a moment to recover, but then served to put Brazil up 24-20, and they clinched the set 25-20.
Desperate to stay alive in the final, Russia went ahead 7-3 in the fourth set after Gamova's thunderous spike down the middle. The Russians extended their lead to six points at 12-6 as Tatiana Kosheleva made a great diving save to set up Gamova's towering hit, and Natalia flubbed a hit, prompting Ze Roberto to send on Sassa to try and spark Brazil. Startseva underlined the intensity of the occasion when in a vain attempt to save a ball, she even went under the net and came close to the Brazilian bench. Gamova rewarded the effort with another spike almost straight down, and Russia were firmly in command at 16-8.
Kosheleva smacked a winner to extend Russia's lead to 17-9, and Sheilla hit long, leading Ze Roberto to call another time-out. Yet Brazil still could not muster the passion shown earlier, with Russia appearing to benefit from having played one set less on on Saturday. Brazil seemed to be saving their best for the fifth set and Perepelkina yanked down a ball to give Russia set point at 24-11. Although Jaqueline's hits and several blocks recovered three points for Brazil, Gamova eventually capped a set she had dominated by hammering a hit off Fabiola for a 25-14 win.
In the deciding fifth set, Brazil charged 2-0 ahead before Gamova nailed two back for Russia. Sheilla, who already had 23 points in the first four sets, continued to hammer away at Russia's defence and her service winner ignited a pro-Brazil crowd. Perepelkina slammed one to spark Russia, as the teams battled to four-all. With Gamova cruising in for another missile, Fabiana leapt up to stop her, and Russia could not dig it out, giving Brazil a 5-4 edge.
Russia quickly got it back on a deflection, but then a euphoric Jaqueline scored while falling out of bounds on a resounding spike for 6-5. Sheilla and Gamova traded punches, and Perepelkina ended a bitter rally with a tremendous block on Jaqueline, to inch Russia back within a point at 7-6. Brazil then lost a close call, contested by Ze Roberto, before Thaisa restored the South Americans' slender lead with a right-wing blast at Gamova's feet.
But after changing sides, Russia equalised at eight-all and then moved ahead when Sheilla missed long. At 10-9 to Russia, Shashkova targeted Jaqueline deep in the back-court to drive Russia ahead by two, forcing Ze Roberto to call a time-out. Natalia's monstrous hit made it 11-10, but Gamova continued to tower over the match. Captain Fabiana retaliated for Brazil, yet there was no stopping Gamova's relentless assault as Russia moved to 14-11. Fittingly on match point, it was Gamova who soared high and launched a missile deep into Brazil's back-court. Sheilla stretched as far as she could, but her bump sailed farther behind her, and Russia jumped for joy. The set was theirs at 15-11, and with it they had their second successive world title.