Russia beat Azerbaijan 3-2 (22-25, 21-25, 27-25, 25-23, 15-7)
Russia defeated the relatively young Azerbaijan, yet it was not easy.
At the beginning of the first set, the Russia and Azerbaijan teams played point to point without giving each other a pause. The Russians managed to take a 3-point lead before the first technical time-out. Both teams made quite a number of unforced mistakes as they still had not found their best forms. Two successive mistakes made by the Russians allowed Azerbaijan to get the first set 25-22.
The second set started with a seesaw situation. A couple of unprompted mistakes made by the Russians gave an opportunity to the Azerbaijanis to bounce back and gained 3 points in a row. A second timeout was called again by Russia, and their performance was obviously boosted. With vigorous attacks and solid defence, the Azerbaijan finished the set with 25-21.
Under the pressure of losing two sets, Russia tried to strengthen their attack. They regained the pace of the game and grasped points with heavily weighted and quality spikes from #11, Ekaterina Gamova. However, Azerbaijan soon closed the gap by a few concrete blockings. The competition between the two teams was very keen towards the end of the game and Russia finally clinched the hard-fought set with 27-25.
Going down one set, Azerbaijan regrouped and started to maintain the best form in the fourth set. Azerbaijan poured all their efforts into the game and tried to their first triumph in the FIVB World Grand Prix. Showing no mercy to the Azerbaijan team, Russian attacked relentlessly to gain the draw.
In the decisive set, the powerful serves, spectacular spikes and solid blocks delivered by Russia contributed to their victory in today’s game.