Gdansk, Poland, July 9, 2011 - Russia beat Poland in four sets (25-22, 25-22, 22-25 and 25-17) to reach their second successive World League Final Round in Gdansk, Poland.
The top scorer of the match was Russia's Maxim Mikhaylov with 24 points, followed by Bartosz Kurek of Poland (23 points).
Poland buoyed by thousands of fans, found a determined Russian side just one team too many as their romance with this year's World League Finals ended in thrilling fashion on Saturday night. Russia, the hot favourites, warmed to the task to set up a repeat of last year's final where thy lost to Brazil.
2011 FIVB Volleyball World League
Live Scoring/Results July 6-10
Finals in pictures
Yet it was Poland who started the stronger and found themselves leading 7-5 with Bartosz Kurek thundering his serves to win with aces. However, the Russians powerful spikes, which had already proved to be a menace, began to take control and before long they not only levelled the score but took the lead ahead of the first TTO. They stayed in control and extended that advantage pushing the score from 15-11 to 17-11. When Russia blocked yet another Jakub Jarosz spike, the Polish coach Andrea Anastasi replaced him with his captain Piotr Gruszka. The Poles tried to catch up, but made too many mistakes. The Russians played better in every department, and even though the hosts defended 3 set balls, Russia drew first blood taking the set 25-22.
In the second set a stubborn Polish team quickly took the lead (5-2). Russia tied the score at 6-6 and from there on in it stayed close. Both teams fought for every ball, as the match began to develop into a classic. The Russians gained the lead at the second TTO (16-14). They extended the advantage at the end of the set to five points (23-18), however Poland with Michal Ruciak's two aces managed to haul their opponnts back to just weithin one point at just (23-22 for Russia). The Russians were still too strong and led by their best scorer Maxim Mikhaylov took the set 25-22, again.
Set three started better for the Russians as they carried the momentum from the previous set and gained the advantage at 5-3. But two mistakes in spike on Russia's side, allowed Poland back in to level the score and then take the lead at the first TTO (8-6). The play stayed on a point-by-point basis. After two questionable refereeing decisions, Russia tied the score at 14-14. The Poles managed to stay focused and didn't let their nerves get in the way as they jumped ahead at 18-15. Back came Russia withn some thrilling play and at 19-19 the set was anyone's. Poland powered on again with some fine serves and spikes and with Kurek firing on all cylinders now it was Poland who hit back as they claimed the set 25-22. Bartosz Kurek scoring 9 points
In the beginning of the fourth set it was Russia who quickly jumped ahead to 6-1 (with Dmitriy Muserskiy's ace) and maintained the lead as Poland began to lose their concentration. With a six-point-advantage on the Russian side, the Poles were unable to catch up, despite changes to the team. Once again, Dmitriy Muserskiy – the tallest player in the world – dominated the Polish defence with his service game as he helped his team to a victory along with the best scorer Maxim Mikhaylov. The set was wrapped up 25-17 and with it began the Russian celebrations. A year ago Brazil broke Russian hearts in the final anbd the two will meet again this time round. As for Poland they face another tough challenge as they take on Argentina for the bronze medal.