Tokyo, Japan, December 1, 2007: World No. 1 Brazil rose to the challenge and crushed third-ranked Russia in straight sets in the second match of the day at Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium on Saturday afternnon.
In a match billed as the World Cup final, the reigning Olympic and world champions were too quick and too slick for a Russian team whose powerful service machine broke down on the big day.
The World Cup holders won 25-22, 25-22, 25-18 to improve their win-loss record to 9-1, with Japan to play on Sunday.
Russia, who came into the Tokyo round at 8-0, lost their second straight to drop to 8-2. They finish their schedule against USA on Sunday.
The match had the feel of a World Cup final long before the start, with both teams enjoying noisy support from Brazilians and Russians, as well as the Japanese taking sides -- canary yellow of Brazil or Russian red.
The very first point involved a long and tumbling rally, ended by captain Giba.
Clearly the Brazilians were trying to dictate the pace of the match with their speed and lightning combinations to negate the Russian power game, and on one point Giba was a blur of yellow as he flew from the back court for a spectacular winner.
Russia, starting without Tetyukhin, replied with some ferocious hits on the left by Berezhko, and veteran setter Khamuttskikh blocked Giba when the captains went head to head on the Brazil left.
The fans were being treated to a fast-paced, fiercely contested showdown between Europe and South America, and the scoreboard moved rapidly with all the massive hits which sent the ball fizzing into the crowd.
Brazil had the better momentum, leading 8-6 at the first TTO and 16-13 at the second, following an attack error from Berezhko under pressure from the Brazilian block.
When Dante blasted through the Russian block on the left and Gustavo pounded a winner at the net -- followed by a challenging stare at the two sprawling Russian defenders -- breathless Russia called the first TO trailing 20-15.
Abramov, given a rare start by coach Alekno, sliced through the Brazil defence on the left for 20-17, and when the Russian block secured the next point Brazil needed a TO with their lead cut to two.
Poor Russian serving allowed Brazil to stay ahead, and Dante finished off a slick move with a pounding spike through a scattered defence after another crashing rally.
Desperate Russia called their second TO after another service error had given Brazil three set points at 24-21, and Ostapenko served into the net on the second of those to end it, 25-22 Brazil.
Russia had made 11 errors in the first set compared to Brazil's five, and needed to get their fearsome serve going to put pressure on Brazil and disrupt their attack.
The signs were not encouraging, though, and coach Alekno took off his team at 5-3.
On the restart, southpaw Andre carved up the Russian block on the right wing for 6-3, and Alekno responded by withdrawing Abramov and sending in Tetyukhin.
Another Andre spike, this time on the left, carried Brazil to the first TTO with a three-point lead at 8-5, and Dante greeted Poltavskiy with a thundering block on the restart.
The players were hurling themselves around the court as they tried to cut off the flow of attacks and counter. Despite this, Brazil could still produce the cleaner hits, notably when they controlled the ball to release Giba from the back court, as decoy jumpers took out the Russian block.
Without their strong serving, backed up by a solid block, the Russians are not the same force, and so far they could not get their serve into anything approaching top gear. More gifts for Brazil gave the South Americans a four-point lead, 16-12, at the second TTO.
Poltavskiy blocked Giba with a nonchalant ease before pounding a mighty winner, and Tetyukhin followed on the left for 20-19 Brazil, at which point coach Bernardinho called a TO.
Brazil still had the flow, though. Gustavo blasted them to set point at 24-22, and the same player ended it at the first time of asking, 25-22, 2-0.
Sixteen faults on serve in two sets told its own sad story for Russia, who needed a dramatic turnaround to extend this match beyond three sets.
They set about this and led 8-6 at the first TTO, before a Volkov serve fizzed through the Brazilian back court for a rare Russian ace.
Refocusing quickly, Brazil replied with a soaring Dante winner at the end of another fast and flowing move, and setter Marcelinho added a service ace. At the second TTO, Brazil were hurrying to victory at 16-13.
Play resumed with a spectacular rally before Rodrigao struck at the net for 17-13. Russia looked deflated, and coach Alekno took them off for a TO to try and stir them back to life.
On the restart, the mobile Brazilian block rejected Russia's next two attacks to leave the Europeans trailing 19-13 and looking incapable of fighting back. Alekno called his second and last TO of the third set.
Pinch server Ostapenko came in but sent his delivery long -- a familiar sight on the day -- and Poltavskiy fired wide up the right as the wheels fell of the Russian challenge. The third set ended 25-18 with a Gustavo blast.