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Russia see off Poland in three sets

Evgeniya Startseva sets for captain Maria Borodakova as Russia complete a straight-sets triumph over Poland in Tokyo

Tokyo, Japan, November 7, 2010 – Defending champions Russia maintained their unbeaten run in the 2010 FIVB Women's Volleyball World Championship with a tight three-set victory (25-17, 25-21, 33-31) over Poland at Tokyo's Yoyogi Gymnasium.

The tallest player in the tournament, 2.02m Ekaterina Gamova, top-scored for Russia with 19 points while Anna Werblinska was Poland's best performer with 14. The Russians, ranked seventh in the world, lead Pool E with five wins from as many matches while Poland fell to two wins and three defeats. Russia have triumphed in eight of the two countries' 11 meetings.

FIVB Women's World Championship Japan 2010 official page

Vladimir Kuzyutkin's team gained an early 5-2 advantage in the first set but Poland stayed close and levelled on a service ace by Karolina Kosek. However, the next time the Russians moved in front, behind the serving of Maria Borodakova and good blocks by Maria Perepelkina and Gamova, as well as two Polish errors, it was decisive. They were five points ahead at the Second Technical Timeout (STT) and, despite a couple of good blocks from their opponents, extended the gap to 21-13.

Poland made a brief comeback with a service ace from Katarzyna Gajgal, a spike by Joanna Kaczor and a Russian mistake, but great blocking from Gamova and Borodakova brought set point at 24-17. A tipover by Borodakova promptly put Russia one up.

The Pool E pacesetters were boosted by three eye-catching blocks in the second set, although Werblinska responded with some heavy spikes and a service ace for Poland. Russia were 8-6 clear at the First Technical Timeout (FTT) on the back of two fine Tatiana Kosheleva spikes and a shot by Gamova. Russia pushed on, yet Jerzy Matlak's charges hit back with great work by Malgorzata Glinka-Mogentale and Werblinska.

The Poles pulled to within a point at 13-12, but then Agnieszka Bednarek-Kasza fluffed a serve and returned the momentum to Russia. The invitation was gleefully received, with the Russians speeding four points ahead by the STT, and five points in front at 19-14. Huge hits by Berenika Okuniewska and Glinka-Mogentale sparked a Polish revival, with parity being restored at 20-20 when Bednarek-Kasza blocked Liubov Shashkova. However, Poland could not sustain their charge. Shashkova produced a couple of canon shots and a setting miss by the Poles gave set point to Russia, which they converted as the Poles failed to deal with Borodakova's serve.

Kaczor got into the groove in the third set to give her side encouragement, sending down four big shots as Poland established an 8-6 lead at the FTT. Russia's Gamova and Kosheleva responded with thumps of the Russian variety, yet the Poles held on tenaciously – and at times precariously – to their advantage. With Matlak's team still in front at 16-14 at the STT, Bednarek-Kasza contributed a couple of nice spikes and an ace to put Poland three points up at 20-17.

Two blasts by Werblinska stretched the gap further to 22-18, but Gamova replied with two great spikes. Werblinska was then blocked, the Poles made an error at the net and it was all-square at 22-22 – and all the way to 31-31, when Bednarek-Kasza overhit a spike to give Russia another set (and match) point, their fourth against five for Poland.
Kosheleva slammed a ball to the back of the court and Werblinska got a touch before it hit the floor – it may have been heading out – sealing the win for Russia. 

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