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FIVB Women's World Championship Japan 2006
Match Description
Russia win gold medal in tie-break

Gold for Russia

 Osaka, Japan, November 16, 2006: Russia won their sixth World Championship with a pulsating 3-2 victory over Brazil in the final on Thursday.
 The Russians won 15-25, 25-23, 25-18, 20-25, 15-13 to end Brazil's hopes of a first world crown and take the gold medal for the first time since 1990.
 It was a magnificent finale to the World Championships, with Russia's Big Red Machine squeaking past the famous canary yellow and green of Brazil in a five-set epic.
 A noisy band of Brazilian supporters created a samba-style atmosphere for the final, and Russia made a nervy start on serve and reception.
 The Russian block clicked into gear, though, and there were few clean winners in the early stages as the teams probed the net and looked for openings in defences and systems they knew well.
 Yulia Merkulova brought up the first TTO 8-6 for Russia with a cross-court jab from the right, and the power of Ekaterina Gamova and Elena Godina kept the Russians in front, with playmaker Lioubov Shashkova holding everything together.
 An ace from Fabiana Claudino brought Brazil level 13-13 and the South Americans forged ahead 15-13 to prompt the first TO of the match from Russia. When another dipping jump serve from Fabiana was miscontrolled by Shashkova, Brazil were three points clear at the second TTO and now had their rhythm.
 Suddenly the Russians were looking vulnerable, and Jaqueline Carvalho pounded a trademark winner from the left to drive Brazil forward.
 Another serve reception error by Shashkova from Sheilla Castro resulted in her replacement by captain Natalia Safronova, and Brazil stormed ahead 22-14, at which point setter Marina Akulova was switched for Marina Sheshenina.
 Russia were in disarray. Carvalho brought up set point at 24-15 when her attack was blocked and fell wide, and the same player then closed out the set 25-15 with a service ace the Russian defence left alone.
 Trailing 3-1 in the second set, Russia needed a TO, but they still had no answer to Fabiana flying down the middle and scoring easily, or to the pumped-up Carvalho churning out the points from the left.
 Shashkova spiked long from the back court and Merkulova served long to leave Brazil 8-6 ahead at the first TTO.
 The serves of Fabiana continued to cause problems for the hesitant Russian defence, and Carvalho pounded winner after winner at the peak of her leap. Welissa "Sassa" Gonzaga took Brazil to the second TTO with the most slender of leads, 16-15, but unforced errors on attack and serve from Walewska Oliveira gave the Russians hope.
 Shashkova then turned on the style and helped her team draw level 20-20, only for Brazil sub Mari Steinbrecher to appear and bludgeon two winners on the left. At 23-21, the second set was in sight for Brazil, and Russia called a final TO to try and halt the flow. The talk worked, and Gamova came up with two spiralling winners to make it 23-23 and take Brazil off court for a TO.
 A serve reception error by Carvalho from Akulova gave Russia set point at 24-23, and Castro fired wide down the right to hand Russia the second set 25-23 and make it 1-1.
 Russia had gained the ascendancy now, and Gamova, Godina and Shashkova all scored fluid winners, while Merkulova blocked Fabiana and spiked from the right. A towering Gamova winner had the crowd gasping and a bullet serve from Godina extended their lead to 11-6.
 Brazilian sub Renata Colombo was brought on to add extra firepower, and a brilliant dig by Steinbrecher turned a Gamova firecracker into a Brazilian winner just inside the Russian end line.
 But Russia were on top of their game. Merkulova's jackhammer spike and an attacking error by Carvalho gave the Europeans a four-point cushion at the second TTO, 16-12. Under pressure from the Russian block, the Brazilian attack began to falter, unlike Gamova, who smashed her team to the third set 25-18.
 In the fourth set, Brazil's captain and setter Fofao needed treatment after sliding head first into the advertising boards trying to retrieve the ball, such was the intensity of the contest.
 Sheilla Castro, soaring from the back court, and Fabiana at the net suggested a Brazilian revival was underway at 11-9, but they knew they had to maintain this form to break the Russian resistance. A thumping winner from Walewska left a trail of red shirts on the ground, and Brazil led 16-13 at the second TTO.
 Fabiana turned the clock back briefly to the first set with her rapid-fire winners at the net, and Castro flew in from the right, 20-17 Brazil.
 When Gamova fired into the net to fall four behind, Russia called a TO with the fourth set slipping away. The Brazilian fans were back in full voice, and Castro responded with a crunching block on Godina. Fofao touched one over for set point, and Steinbrecher finished it coolly 25-20 for 2-2.
 The tie-break opened with possibly the longest rally of the match before Castro struck the decisive blow, but the Russians held two-point leads and made Brazil play catch-up. Russia turned round 8-6 ahead, only for Fabiana to show all her net craft and score two straight points for 8-8.
 Every point was greeted like the match-winner in a pulsating encounter as neither team could pull away. Castro kept pushing Brazil ahead, and Shashkova spiked wide, 13-11 Brazil.
 Gamova closed the gap to one, and when Castro spiked long it was level again 13-13. A Merkulova block on Carvalho gave Russia match point at 14-13, and Gamova tipped over the winner, 15-13.