Ningbo, August 26, 2007 - Uprising European powerhouse the Netherlands landed their first title at the FIVB World Grand Prix in style after beating world champions Russia 3-2 here on Sunday for a perfect record in the six-team round-robin Finals.
The orange contingent held off a strong surge from Russia to take the 21-25, 25-18, 25-13, 20-25 and 15-8 victory, becoming the sixth team to win the renowned title. It is also the first trophy for the Dutch women in history at major international competitions.
The Netherlands also took home the top prize of 200,000 US dollars with the Most Valuable Player award going to Manon Flier, who led the Netherlands with 20 points on Sunday.
"It is an achievement for Dutch volleyball, as it is the first time the women’s team won the title of a major tournament in the world," said Netherlands coach Avital Selinger. "I feel proud of the players and happy for the lessons they taught me, because I was not able to do that as a player."
The Netherlands completed a wonderful journey in this year's FIVB World Grand Prix, recording ten wins in a row connecting the preliminaries and the final round.
"We work very hard and it is another proof that if we work hard we would win more than you lose," added the wonder-making coach, who remained calm and cool as usual at the press conference after the match.
"I never thought of winning the first place, never," he said. "I was able to be calm and enjoy the game today."
The Dutch players burst out with joy after the well-earned victory, chanting and singing loudly in the locker room.
"It was a big surprise to beat Russia and we did a great job this week," said Dutch captain Ingrid Visser, who contributed 11 points. "I should say congratulations to my teammates, the coach and the coaching staff. It is a great feeling. I am proud of what we did here."
The Russian team, who lost to China in a five-set thriller Saturday evening, started well in the early match of the day, running off four straight points to overtake the lead at 19-17 and went on to clinch the opener.
Then the Netherlands rallied to dominate the game and take the next two sets easily, before Russia staged a 6-1 run for an unshakable 23-17 lead en route to the victory in the fourth.
In the tiebreaker, the Dutch women were unstoppable, jumping to a 3-0 cushion and never looked back.
“They did a great job in the last two years. Mr. Selinger set up an example in boosting the team’s confidence and level,” said Russia coach Giovanni Caprara. “They work hard, play well and try to be patient. It is a great success, and they deserve the title.”
The hosts China could be satisfied with the second place after sweeping three-time defending champions Brazil 25-21, 25-21 and 25-13 in the last match of the tournament Sunday evening.
Following an opening loss to the Netherlands, the Chinese women reaped four wins in a row to take the silver medal with eight points.
While the Brazilians, who entered the Finals as top title favorites with the best results in the preliminaries, came in a disappointing fifth after dropping the last four of five matches, thanks for better points win-loss ratio over Poland.
FIVB World Grand Prix Finals debutants Poland finally pulled off a consolation win over Italy 25-21, 25-18 and 25-19, snapping their four-match losing streak.
“We won the first match at the tournament, we really wanted to win,” said Poland captain Dorota Swieniewicz. “We had won six matches in a row in the preliminaries and that caused physical problems to us.”
Katarzyna Skowronska-Dolata led Poland, who settled for the bottom on a 1-4 record, with 14 points and Swieniewicz added 11.
Italy and Russia were both on a 2-3 record while the Italians ranked third above the world champions with better points win-loss ratio.
Best spiker: Taismary Aguero, Italy
Best blocker: Eleonora Dziekiewicz, Poland
Best server: Yang Hao, China
Best libero, Zhang Xian, China
Best setter: Wei Qiuyue, China
Best scorer: Taismary Aguero, Italy
Most Valuable Player: Manon Flier, the Netherlands