Ningbo, China, August 2, 2009 - China outclassed world champion Russia in a hard-fought five-set match on Sunday in the 2009 FIVB World Grand Prix.
With a 23-25, 25-23, 20-25, 25-14, 15-9 victory in the last round of Pool C, China improved its win-loss record to 3-0. The Russians finished runner-up in the four-team round-robin competition with a 2-1 win-loss record.
China's Wang Yimei was the heroine of the match, scoring 30 points, 27 from spikes, and middle blocker Xue Ming added 20 points for China. Tatiana Kosheleva led the Russian team with 27 points.
It was in blocking where China made the difference, winning 14 points on block to Russia's 9.
Both teams started aggressively in the first set and Russia reached the first TTO leading 8-7. The teams then traded points until 13-13 when two spikes from Xue Ming and another from Li Juan put China 16-13 in front by the second TTO. Trailing 23-22, Russia won three points in a row, owing to a block from Olga Fateeva and two spikes from Tatiana Kosheleva, to take the set.
China raced to a 4-2 lead in the second set and had a one-point difference at the first TTO. The Chinese maintained the narrow lead at the second TTO. Going down 21-17, Russian coach Vladimir Kuzyutkin called a timeout and his girls cut the gap to one at 23-22. China won the set with a powerful spike from Wang Yimei.
The teams were tied at 4-4 in the third set when the Chinese took the initiative, establishing a 7-4 lead. By the first TTO China enjoyed a 2-point difference. Russia stayed close and leveled the score at 9-9. After China pulled away to 12-9, Russia equalized again before going ahead 16-14 ahead at the second TTO. Cai Bin called a timeout when Russia was leading 21-19, but it didn't work as the Russians scored three points in a row for 24-19. China save one set point but was unable to prevent the reigning world champion from clinching the set through a Ekaterina Gamova kill.
China rushed out to a 5-2 lead in the fourth set and enjoyed a 3-point advantage at the first TTO. The Chinese were able to maintain a high tempo, suffocating the Russian attacks with well-drilled blocking and back-up defence. By the second TTO, China were way out in front, 16-9, and from there they never looked back.
Buoyed by the raucous home crowds, China kept on rolling in the fifth set, leading 8-5 at the first TTO. The Chinese continued in the same vein, stretching the advantage to 6 points (14-8) and forcing a Russian timeout. After the break, Russia staved off a match point, but Wang then thumped home a sharply angled winner on the right to draw appaluse from the audience.