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USA end Serbia's unbeaten run in five-set thriller


USA players celebrate a hard-earned victory against Serbia

Belgrade, Serbia, August 11, 2013 – Reigning World Grand Prix champions USA brought Serbia's record six-match competition winning streak to an end with a 3-2 (25-14, 22-25, 25-17, 23-25, 15-12) win in the final pool F match of round two.


Title holders USA had to dig deep, but ultimately managed to take the tie-break after home side Serbia had forced the match into a decider by winning the fourth set.


Both teams were focused from the beginning of the match and the players battled hard for each point. The USA went to the first technical time-out leading 8-7, but after the break Kimberly Hill's serving disturbed Serbia's reception and the hosts were quickly down 12-7. 


Coach Zoran Terzic tried to win back momentum with a couple of time-outs. Serbia somewhat consolidated their game, but the deficit at the second technical break had increased and the loss of the first set was inevitable, Kelly Murphy finishing off the set with a powerful spike for 25-14.


Blocking was the strongest USA weapon at the start of the second set and put them into an early 4-0 lead that they maintained to the first technical time-out (8-4). After the break, Serbia slowly narrowed the gap and tied the score at 10-10 with the help of powerful serving from Brankica Mihajlovic. 


After a USA time-out, Serbia moved in front and had earned a two-point advantage at the second technical break. Maja Ognjenovic and Mihajlovic connected well for Serbia and USA coach Kiraly called another time-out, but Serbia managed to preserve their advantage to take the set 25-22 and level the match at 1-1.


The USA got ahead at the beginning of the third set, but Serbia tied the score at 8-8. The USA regained the momentum and got back in front at 13-10, but the home side stabilised their game after a time-out.


After the second technical time-out, when they trailed 16-14, Serbia lost their focus, earned a yellow and red card after questioning decisions and the USA wrapped up the set 25-17 to take a 2-1 match lead.


The initial stages of the fourth set were marked with Jovana Brakocevic's power serves that took Serbia in front 5-2. The USA quickly responded and had gone 8-6 in front by the first technical break.


Serbia fought hard to narrow the gap, but at the second technical time-out the USA were leading 16-12 and the match was slipping out of their hands. They found strength for one more push and got back ahead at 18-17.


USA Coach Kiraly called for a time-out, but with Brakocevic back on serve creating all sorts of problems, Serbia went into a three-point lead. The USA levelled the set at 23-23, but the home side closed it out 25-23 to force the tie-breaker.


The USA took an early 4-2 lead in the fifth set and, although Serbia struggled with serves, they managed to stay close and tie the score at 7-7. The home side went in front 9-8 and the USA called a time-out before turning the score over in their favour at 10-9. 


Serbia tied at 10-10 but then lost three points in a row which proved decisive. They could not provide one more miracle and the USA held out for a 15-12 set, a 3-2 win and first place in pool F with an unbeaten record on the weekend.


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