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Germans cruise past Croatia in three

German Margareta Kozuch (R) scored 19 points to lead her side to victory over Croatia on Tuesday

Matsumoto, Japan, November 2, 2010 – Germany overcame Croatia with a straight-sets victory (26-24, 25-18, 25-21) in Group C at the FIVB Women’s World Championship in Matsumoto on Tuesday, improving their record to 3-1 while Croatia dropped to 1-3.

Margareta Kozuch carried most of the offensive load for Germany, registering 19 points including one block and two serving aces. Senna Usic and Jelena Alajbeg scored 15 and 11 respectively for Croatia. The Germans had the advantage in blocks (8-4) and also dominated from the service line, producing eight aces against four from their opponents.

Croatia caught Germany by surprise with some slick play at the start of the match, picking up the first four points but spikes by Kozuch and Maren Brinker helped Germany get back level at 8-8. Germany then crept ahead, but back came the Croats with four straight points including a good block by Senna Usic Jogunica on Corina Ssuschke before Germany responded in kind. A massive thump by Usic Jogunica gave Croatia a one-point lead but two gargantuan blows by Kozuch evened the scores at 17-17. It remained nip and tuck until, at 24-24, Kozuch blasted a spike through the Croatian defence and at set-point Kathleen Weiss’s serve was too hot for Croatia to handle.

Weiss was back in the action at the start of the second set when the 1.71m setter put the block on Ana Grbac to start a four-point run for the Germans, from which Croatia never really recovered. At 10-5 down things went from bad to worse as Mirela Bareš committed two receiving errors while big server Jelena Alajbeg was penalised for a foot fault. Coach Miroslav Aksenijevic then called a timeout before realising he didn't have any left, and a terrific block by Ssuschke on Usic Jogunica gave the Germans a nine-point lead at the second TTO. The Croatians rediscovered some of their form, but they were still making too many errors. A mistake at the net by Mirela Delic brought up set-point and Kathy Radzuweit – the tallest player in Group C at 1.96m – finished things off for Germany with an unreturnable hit.
Croatia held the Germans to 6-6 at the start of the third set, but fell four points behind at 11-7. Alajbeg came up with two trademark thumps to keep Croatia close, but Germany still had a three-point cushion at the second TTO. The Germans were six points ahead at 23-17, but went off the boil and coach Giovanni Guidetti was forced to call a timeout on matchpoint as the gap was reduced to three. Brinker then slammed down a final spike to end the match.

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