Tokyo, Japan, August 22, 2009: Russia came back from one set down to beat Germany 3-1 in the first match of the fourth day of the FIVB World Grand Prix Final Round at Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium on Saturday afternoon.
After losing the first set 25-16, the world champions hit back 25-21, 25-23, 25-20 to improve their win-loss record to 3-1. Germany slipped to 1-3 with one game remaining.
With solid blocking and incisive spiking, notably from Maren Brinker, Germany led 8-6 at the first TTO. On the restart, Corina Ssuschke led the German charge with a series of points, including an ace to add to her earlier block.
The Russians looked slow in defence compared to the Germans, who hurled themselves around the court to keep the ball alive. The Germans were by far the livelier of the teams, and were well worth their 16-10 lead at the second TTO.
With this dizzying defence from Weiss and Beier in particular, Kozuch and Brinker were able to finish off some thrilling counters to stretch the lead. It was not Russia’s day at the moment, and even the normally reliable and prolific Tatiana Kosheleva served listlessly into the net. Beier tipped one over on the left to end the first set 25-16.
In the second set, the Russians woke up and Ekaterina Gamova began to move them clear to 5-1, at which point Germany called a TO. Further good work from Gamova, Kosheleva and Anna Makarova earned them a two-point lead, 8-6, at the first TTO.
Although Kozuch pulled off a stinging block on Gamova, the Russian ace could not be controlled for long, and led a Russian revival after a mini-collapse to take her team into the second TTO ahead 16-13.
Germany called a TO after Elena Murtazaeva extended Russia’s lead to 19-15 with a solid hit down the right, and although Germany stayed in the hunt with some clever shot placement there was no stopping Russia closing out the second set 25-21 with another Gamova gem from the left.
In the third set, Germany coach Giovanni Guidetti was delighted with his team when they came off for the first TTO with a three-point lead, 8-5, after some inspired all-round play and crushing spikes from Kozuch and Ssuschke.
Germany stayed in front through to the second TTO, 16-14, thanks to their greater consistency and defensive discipline, whereas Russia blew hot and cold and relied more on individual spiking talent.
The German block against the Russian spikers held the key to the game, and Gamova came through on set point to clinch the third frame for Russia 25-23, 2-1.
German captain Christiane Furst had registered five of her team’s nine blocks points in the first three sets and added two more by stopping Gamova and Makarova early in the fourth as the Germans romped ahead 5-0. Kosheleva found her range to reduce the arrears to four at the first TTO, 8-4.
The four-point gap remained, 16-12, at the second TTO, thanks to the intensity and enthusiasm of the German team. Russia, on the other hand, showed signs of crumbling on regular occasions, and lacked the consistency, if not the talent, to launch a sustained comeback.
Borodakova stepped up the Russian block, giving Brinker a hard time on the German left, and an ace from Maria Zhadan pulled Russia level 19-19 and sent Germany into a TO.
Gamova’s towering block took Russia to 22-20, and Germany’s attack errors continued under the pressure. Gamova brought up four match points and Russia clinched it 25-20, 3-1.