November 22, 2006, Sendai, Japan ó No. 3 ranked Russia snuffed out South Koreaís slim hopes of reaching the second round with a three-set rout on Wednesday.
The Koreans needed the mother of all miracles to advance out of Pool D: a victory over the 2002 world championship runners-up. Unfortunately, Russia wasnít in a very generous mood as they cruised to a 25-13, 25-21, 25-13 win to move to the second round with a 4-1 record.
Tunisia went through to the second round at the expense of South Korea.
Russia were at something approaching their imperious best in the first set and quickly raced to a 20-10 lead courtesy of some venomous spiking.
Stanislav Dineykin was left out for Russia but back in the lineup were captain Semen Poltavsky and the 217-cm Alexey Kazakov, and the attacker and blocker were unforgiving on the Koreans.
It was left to Alexander Kosarev to close out the first set, however, with a smash that was too hot to handle.
Russia arrived at the first TTO of the second set with an 8-5 lead when Pavel Abramov smacked down a stinging shot from the left.
The crowd was firmly behind the Koreans and they responded by tying things up at 13-13, forcing Russia coach Zoran Gajic into calling a time out.
Things were still tight but Russia edged into the second TTO with a one-point advantage. Kyung Soo Lee was finding his range for the Koreans on the left, though, while Kyoung Min Ha was flexing his muscles down the middle.
But it still looked as though Russia had a couple of extra gears and Kuleshovís towering spike down the Koreanís throats brought up a 21-18 lead for Russia.
Korean coach Ho Chul Kim called a time out to try to rouse his troops, but it was of to no avail. Abramov hammered in at 23-19 to get set point and a serve into the net from Byung Chul Chang moved Russia 2-0 ahead.
Russia raced into a 4-0 lead in the third set, with an awful mix-up where everyone left a tame ball to bounce, forcing coach Kim to call a time out.
Lee responded with a spike on the left and Korea slowly got back into the set, but the Russians still arrived at the first technical break four-points ahead.
They continued in an unforgiving style and won the next four points to move to 12-4 with Kuleshov blocking time and again and the third set was threatening to turn into a massacre.
Yo Han Kim hadnít given up, though, and blocked well to reduce Russiaís lead but a Kazakov snapped spike brought the second TTO with his side six ahead.
Very quickly, Kosarev tapped in to bring it to 23-13 and big block set up match point and captain Poltavskyís massive serve hit the net and dropped into empty court.
A cruel way to end a pretty cruel display from the formidable Russians.