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FIVB World Grand Prix 2006
Match Description
Brazil complete "three-peat", sixth in all

Team Brazil celebrates its sixth World Grand Prix title

 Reggio Calabria, Italy, September 10, 2006: Brilliant Brazil completed a straight hat-trick of World Grand Prix titles and a sixth in all with a magnificent allround display to tame Russia 3-1 in a ferociously-fought final on Sunday.
 Brazil, who had won 12 straight games in the qualifying rounds and the Final Six to reach the final unbeaten, came home 25-20, 25-20, 23-25, 25-17.
 Brazil held the lead at the two technical breaks in the first set, 8-7 and 16-14, but went on to win the opening frame comfortably, 25-20.
 As expected, the battle for supremacy in the middle of the court was ferocious. Although Maria Borodakova put the block on the dangerous Welissa "Sassa" Gonzaga on one notable occasion, the Brazilian livewire could not be kept quiet for long.
 Sassa was everywhere, her speed, athletic leap and controlled power causing all sorts of problems for the slower Russian defence.
 With Sassa on fire, backed up by the usual supporting cast, Brazil were able to string together a series of points, a key element to the first set as Russia never found the same momentum.
 A magnificent block by Walewska Oliveira on Lioubov Shashkova to move Brazil ahead 22-18 signalled the beginning of the end of the first set, which finished tamely when Marina Akulova served into the net.
 Russia settled down in the second set, and took heart from two searing winners on the left from Ekaterina Gamova and Natalia Safronova on successive points. When Fabiana Claudino uncharacteristically spiked wide at the net, Russia had won three straight points to move ahead 12-11.
 A few doubts were beginning to creep into Brazil's smooth game, and when poor serve reception gifted Russia another point to make it 14-12, Brazil called a TO.
 The talk worked a treat. Shortly after the teams returned, Sheilla Castro opened up the Russian block with a scorcher down the middle, Sassa struck on the left and Castro again found a way through a massive blue wall of three Russian blockers to move Brazil ahead 19-17 and produce a Russian TO.
 Castro's thinking was as bright as her canary yellow shirt, and a drop-shot into space between the big Russians made it 22-19. Fabiana brought up set point with a thundering blow at the net, and Sassa did the rest, pushing one over for 25-20.
 Russia needed to come up with a few answers quickly, and Natalia Kulikova threatened Brazil down the left flank, helping them lead 8-6 at the first TTO.
 When Shashkova struck to extend Russia's advantage to three points, 11-8, Brazil called a TO. Gamova was becoming more and more influential as the third set wore on, and Brazil knew they could not afford to let her cut loose, otherwise it would spell big trouble.
 Castro was enjoying her best match of the Grand Prix, though, and would not let Russia get too far in front.
 When Brazil pulled back to 20-20, Russia called a TO. From this point on, the teams traded lusty blows.
 A Borodakova block on Jaqueline Carvalho was matched by Walewska on Shashkova, before Shashkova brought up set point for Russia at 24-23. Brazil looked to Castro to get them out of trouble, but she sliced her spike wide to hand Russia the third set.
 With Walewska alert at the net, Brazil reached the first TTO of the fourth set with a three-point advantage, but Russia fought back through Kulikova's jab over the net on the left, and a floating service ace from Borodakova.
 Brazil refused to release their grip on the set, though, and from 16-11 at the second technical break they closed out the match 25-17, thanks to the relentless precision of Sassa, Castro and Carvalho.