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Russia beat Belgium for first win in Finals

Russia's Tatiana Kosheleva attacks against Belgium
 Tokyo, Japan, August 21, 2014 – Russia started the second day of the FIVB World Grand Prix Finals in Tokyo with a 3-0 (25-23, 25-16, 25-19) win over Belgium at Ariake Coliseum on Thursday.

Key points:

Russia are now 1-1; Belgium are 0-2.

Russia had 15 blocking points to Belgium’s five.

Belgium made 21 errors; Russia made 12.

Russia's Natalia Malykh was the top scorer in the match with 18 points; Belgium were led by Lise Van Hecke with 15 points. 

It was the first World Grand Prix meeting between Russia and Belgium. Belgium are making their debut in the competition.

The last meeting between these teams at a major championship came at the 2009 European Championship and Russia won that match in five sets. 

Russia started their Finals campaign with a 3-1 defeat at the hands of hosts Japan; Belgium lost 3-1 to China. 

With 246 points, Lise Van Hecke led all players in scoring in this year's groups.

Belgium had ace attacker Lise Van Hecke – the top scorer in the Preliminary Round – back in their lineup after missing the first day with a knee injury and she contributed four points as the Belgians edged into a one-point lead at the first technical timeout. Irina Zaryazhko responded for Russia, including a nice block on Van Hecke, as the European champions moved into a 12-9 lead, prompting Belgian coach Gert Vande Broek to call a timeout. Laura Heyrman responded with a superbly placed tipover and a block on Tatiana Kosheleva and setter Frauke Dirickx followed up with a service ace. Helene Rousseaux added a couple of rockets and Belgium were two points ahead at 14-12. Russia called a timeout but Belgium were three points ahead at the second TTO after a thumping ace by Rousseaux. Russia pulled back into the game with some great blocking that put them back in the lead at 19-18 and Kosheleva added a couple of rockets. Two Belgian errors gave Russia a two-point advantage at 23-21 and Kosheleva scored the two points that earned Russia a 1-0 lead. Russia earned seven blocking points in the set.

Russia started the second set with confidence and added two more blocks – Evgeniya Startseva on Charlotte Leys and Iuliya Podskalnaya on Heyrman – as they went up 4-0 and Vande Broek was forced to call a timeout. Van Hecke helped stop the rot but Russia were still four points ahead at the first TTO. Vande Broek called his players off court after two more points were dropped, but Belgium continued to struggle against the strong blocking of Russia and were nine points back at the second TTO. After falling behind 19-10, Belgium found a burst of form with a spike from Van Hecke and successive blocks from Freya Aelbrecht and Dirickx, prompting Russia coach Yury Marichev to call a timeout but Russia held the Belgians off and spiking errors by Van Hecke and Leys ended the set and put the Russians 2-0 up. 

After Russia took a slight lead at 5-4 in the third set, Rousseaux delivered her second thunderbolt of the set and Belgium were helped by successive shots into the net by Kosheleva and Pasynkova. A block by Aelbrecht on Pasynkova gave Belgium an 8-5 lead at the first TTO. Natalia Malykh brought Russia back into the game with two good kills and Belgium hurt their chances badly with three straight errors, allowing Russia to go ahead by two at 10-8. Two more errors saw Russia 13-10 ahead and Vande Broek called a timeout. Podskalnaya completed a trio of unreturned serves to put Russia 15-10 up. Belgium fought back to within a point at 16-15, but Russia held their nerve. Matchpoint came on an ace by Podskalnaya and Kosheleva clinched the match by blocking Aelbrecht.


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