Russian players celebrate a point
November 19, 2006, Sendai, Japan — Russia were at their awe-inspiring best against Canada on Sunday, brushing aside the No. 12 ranked team in three sets.
The third-ranked Russians, six-time world champions, won 25-19, 25-20, 25-21 to improve to 2-1 in Pool D, with the Canucks suffering their first reverse.
Russia got the early advantage against Canada and went into the second TTO 16-10 ahead and sustained the points gap, with Pavel Abramov in fine form down the middle.
Canada’s attack were once again going through Frederic Winters a lot, but he wasn’t effective in the first set as he was in the previous day’s victory over South Korea.
A stunning diagonal service ace from captain Semen Poltavsky gave Russia a 23-17 lead and set point was reached when Winters served into the net.
Alexey Kuleshov finished it off with a cracker down the middle and Russia was in a commanding position.
Kuleshov started where he left off in the second set to put the first point on the board with another spike down the Canadians’ throats and then Poltavsky’s blocked effort was so strong it bounced off the roof of the Sendai City Gymnasium.
Russia had a one-point edge going into the first TTO and a couple of mistakes from Canada let the Russian extend the lead before some excellent blocking from the Canucks leveled things up at 12 apiece.
Russia, though, notched four quick-fire points to go into the second technical break 16-12.
Libero Daniel Lewis was doing his best to keep Canada in the game with some spectacular diving recoveries, but Russia’s maddening consistency in returning the ball — normally laced with venom — kept the Canucks frustrated.
Three brilliant blocks from Canada shortened the gap to 23-20, but the rally of the match brought match point when Abramov ended some pinball volleyball with a powerful winner and a net violation by Paul Duerden brought the second set to an end.
Two clean spikes from both sides for Duerden and one from the left for Winters kept Canada interested at the start of the third set, but Poltavsky responded with some big efforts of his own as Russia reached the first TTO one ahead.
Winters was more of a threat down the left, right and middle in this set, with some pinpoint spikes and efforts too hot for the Russians to cope with. This helped his side move into the second TTO two points clear.
A Brett Youngberg blockbuster kept Canada’s noses in front, but Kuleshov then put the Russians in front 20-19 with steep spike and they never the lost lead again.
Match point arrived courtesy of a block from Kuleshov and Serguei Grankine and Poltavksy hared in from the right to let go a take-no-prisoners winner.