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 Match info | Description
Korea stun unbeaten Russia in five sets

Korean star Kim Yeon-Koung celebrates on Friday
Tokyo, August 19, 2011 – Korea pulled off a stunning upset in the opening match of Pool L in the 2011 FIVB World Grand Prix in Tokyo on Friday, bringing down previously undefeated Russia in five sets (25-22, 17-25, 20-25, 25-23, 15-11).

Despite losing, the extra point means Russia have now guaranteed their place in the finals alongside China as hosts.

2011 FIVB Volleyball World Grand Prix
August 5-28

Kim Yeon-Koung starred for Korea again with 31 points, followed by Hwang Youn-Joo and Han Son-Yi with 15 apiece. Russia were led by Nataliya Goncharova (25 points), Lesya Makhno (23) and Ekaterina Gamova (20). Russia outblocked Korea 16-5. 

There was little to choose between the two teams in the opening phase. Korea weren't helped by three successive errors, including two service reception misses, but a block by Kim Yeon-Koung on Iulia Morozova gave Korea a two-point advantage at the first technical timeout. Korea stretched their lead to three points on the back of a brilliant serve by Kim that was finished off by Han Song-Yi, who also delivered an unreturnable serve of her own that put Korea four points ahead. Two Russian errors then saw Korea two points up at the second TTO. A big spike by Ekaterina Gamova started a three-point Russian run – the other two points coming from Korean errors, which prompted coach Kim Hyuug-Sil to bring his players off court for a timeout. Kim hauled his players off again after two more service reception errors that narrowed his team's lead to just one point at 20-19. Two dropped points later, Russia coach Vladimir Kuzyutkin called his players off, but Korea pressed on. Hwang Youn-Joo gave Korea four setpoints with a spicy thump through the Russian defence and Korea clinched the set – only the second conceded by Russia in the tournament – with a double spike from top scorer Kim Yeon-Koung.

Kim called a timeout with his team at 3-6 and in desperate need of tightening up their defence at the start of the second set. They were helped by two Russian errors – a netted serve by Evgeniya Startseva and a service reception miss by Lesya Makhno – but were still two points back at the first TTO. Some great spiking by Makhno helped Russia extend their lead to 14-9 when Kim called a timeout. The margin was four points at the second TTO and a somewhat flat Korea slipped rapidly away. Gamova brought up setpoint with a routine spike and Russia levelled at 1-1 on a slick tipover by Startseva.

Russia's big hitters – Makhno, Gamova and Nataliya Goncharova – kept the pressure on at the start of the third set and the Koreans found themselves four points back at the first TTO. Kim called a timeout at 7-13, but his team seemed to have few answers to the imposing Russian attack. Korea had a mini-revival from 18-12 and pulled back to within two points at 19-17 after a great block by Kim Se-Young, prompting a Russian timeout. Kim Yeon-Koung reduced the margin to one point at 19-18 and again at 20-19, but then Korea got sloppy again and a big block by Makhno on Kim Yeon-Koung ended the set and put Russia 2-1 up. 

Korea tightened up at the start of the fourth set. Kim Yeon-Koung landed some good spikes and one brilliant serve as the Koreans took a one-point lead at the first TTO. A couple of good spikes each by Kim Se-Young and Kim Yeon-Koung saw Korea's lead improve to 14-9 and they were four points ahead at the second TTO. But two good blocks by Makhno saw Korea's lead reduced to one point and Kim brought his players off for a talk, before Makhno levelled the scores at 17. Korea then got sloppy and at 18-20, Kim called another timeout, but the teams were level again two points later when Bae Yoo-Na delivered an unreturnable serve. Good crosscourt spikes by Kim Hye-Jin and Kim Yeon-Koung gave Korea a two-point advantage at 23-21 before Russia levelled again. Kim Yeon-Koung then thundered down a spike for setpoint and a soft shot by Bae sent the match into a tiebreaker set.

Five of Korea's first seven points in the fifth set were from Russian errors – the other two coming from big hits by Kim Keon-Young – and they were five points clear at 9-4 after Kim Se-Young made a great block on Makhno. After Kim Se-Young came up with another great block – on the 202-cm Gamova – Kuzyutkin called a timeout with Korea ahead 12-7. At this point Russia couldn't do anything right and a wide shot by Merkulova handed Korea six matchpoints. Russia saved three but then committed a net error and Korea had a historic win under their belt.

  

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