After losing their opening match to hosts Thailand, Peru suffered a further blow when Jessenia Uceda fell sick. World No. 5 Russia, meanwhile, were led by the “twin towers” – Ekaterina Gamova and Lulia Merkulova – who both stand 202-cm tall.
2011 FIVB Volleyball World Grand
Russia opened encouragingly, with the experienced Gamova and Nataliya Goncharova – top scorer on the day with 19 points – attacking spectacularly to put the world champions 8-1 ahead. Peru maintained their poise and hit back bravely, but their young players proved no match tactically against their much stronger rivals. Peru struggled to penetrate Russia’s high blocking and little changed after Russia replaced their best players with subs Anna Matienko and Olga Bukreeva. After going 21-11 ahead, Russia allowed Peru only one more point – a spike by Karla Ortiz – before wrapping up the one-sided set 25-12.
Peru showed their courage in the second set to briefly lead 2-0 before Russia hit back aggressively. Peru weren’t helped by an injury to Ortiz, but they responded with guts and spirit to narrow the gap to 5-8. Russia came up with some sharp spikes from Goncharova and were cruising at 20-6. With Peru committing unforced mistakes, Russia continued their remarkable run and Peru failed to make it into double figures.
Russia’s domination continued in the third set as devastating cross-court spikes from Gamova and Merkulova had the Peruvians flat-footed several times. Leading 13-8, Russia never looked back. Despite a brief fightback from Peru, Goncharova, Gamova and Merkulova took turns puncturing their opponents’ defence to help Russia clinch the match.