Bangkok, Thailand, August 15, 2009 – World champions Russia put it past hosts Thailand 3-1 (25-18 24-26 25-11 25-12) to register two straight wins in the 2009 World Grand Prix preliminaries Pool I at the packed Keelawes 1 Gymnasium.
Getting off to a brilliant start with a dramatic 3-1 win over the USA on the previous match, Russia played more confidently in the clash against Thailand.
Russia took command initially to lead 5-1before the host side bounced back mightily, with Malika Kanthong overcoming the taller blockers with her devastating cross-court spikes to help tie the score 7-7.
The 202cm-tall Ekaterina Gamova used her height advantage to tear the Thai defence into pieces with her fierce spikes to widen the gap to 13-9. Thailand maintained their poise, with Malika unleashing a series of fierce attacks to help her team come close at 17-19.
Still, the Russians had enough to hold them off. After a few heavy smashes, Gamova, who led the team with 23 points including 19 kills, was instrumental in lifting Russia’s 25-18 win in the opener.
Cheered on relentlessly by a large crowd of home fans packing the 4,000-seater competition venue, the Thai players started to produce the goods in the second set.
They spiked, boosted and blocked well to lead 12-7 before Pleumjit Thinkaow produced ace serves to stretch the lead to 19-14 and 24-22, but became more prone with unforced mistakes. Russia saved two set points before Thailand stormed on to win the closely-contested set 26-24.
In the third set, Russia regained their form. Tatiana Kosheleva was the team’s comeback as she silenced the cheering Thai spectators with her exceptional spikes to help the team win easily 25-11.
Russia still gained the upper hand in the fourth set, where they led commandingly 14-6. From then on, the visitors never looked back to wrap up the comfortable set 25-12 and the match.