Tokyo, Japan, August 23, 2009: Russia swept the Netherlands in straight sets in the penultimate match of the FIVB World Grand Prix Final Round at Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium on Sunday afternoon.
The Russians were much too strong for a lethargic Dutch team and won 25-20, 25-23, 25-21 to finish with a 4-1 record. The Dutch slipped to 2-3.
Russia took the first set 25-20 with the help of eight spikes from Ekaterina Gamova and five points from Ksenia Naumova, including two blocks.
The Dutch, who were trying to make up a four-point margin from the mid-point of the set, could not get going out wide and had more success through the middle with Francien Huurman and Ingrid Visser.
In the second set, the Dutch stayed in close contention. From 17-17, Debby Stam scored up the left and Huurman served an ace for a two-point lead, only for the explosive Tatiana Kosheleva to bring Russia level 19-19.
Gamova, with a tip-over and a left-wing spike, brought the second set closer, and the Netherlands called a TO down 23-22 when they could not receive a Kosheleva serve.
Russia had two set points at 24-22, but after Chaine Staelens had saved the first one, Elena Murtazaeva blocked the same player to close it 25-23, 2-0 Russia.
Gamova had rattled up 14 points, including 13 spikes, from two sets, while Dutch ace Manon Flier had been restricted to five.
In the third set, the Dutch showed signs of a revival by scoring three points from 3-3 to 6-3, including a Visser spike and Stam tip-over. Naumova had other ideas, however, and made up for an earlier spike into the net with two winners on the left. When Gamova registered an ace due to weak reception, the Russians had quickly pulled level 6-6 and went on to lead 8-7 at the first TTO.
The lightning digs of libero Ekaterina Kabeshova played a big part in blunting the Dutch attack, and setter Maria Zhadan was able to call on an in-form Gamova and ever-reliable Kosheleva to finish off the counter-attacks. The Dutch called a TO on falling behind 14-11 but could not stop the Russians building up a five-point lead at the second TTO, 16-11.
Flier was hit and miss with her swooping back-court attacks, and Murtazaeva and Yulia Sedova formed a strong Russian block.
Trailing 19-14, the last person the Dutch wanted to see coming on was the Russian power spiker Anna Makarova, one of the team’s top performers in the Grand Prix. However, a faulty Russian reception allowed the Netherlands to come back to 20-18 and force a Russia TO.
Naumova got them going again and Kosheleva pounded away on the left for 22-19, just three points from victory. A spectacular Zhadan dig led to Russia scoring the next point on a counter-attack.
Sedova blocked Flier down the middle for match point at 24-19, and Gamova finished it 25-21, 3-0.