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Russia claim bronze medal after five-set win over China

Wang Na dives for the ball against Russia
 Tokyo, Japan, August 24, 2014 – In a winner-takes-all match for the Bronze Medal on the last day of the FIVB World Grand Prix Finals in Tokyo on Sunday, Russia took the honours, beating China 3-2 (21-25, 14-25, 25-22, 25-20, 15-13) at Ariake Coliseum.

Key points:

Tatiana Kosheleva was the top scorer in the match with 28 points; Liu Xiaotong led China with 19.

Russia (3-2) finished with seven points; China (2-3) finished with six.

In last year’s Finals, China won four matches; this year they won two.

The two teams have now met 27 times in the World Grand Prix. 

Tatiana Kosheleva was the scoring leader going into Sunday’s matches; she finished with a total of 109 points.

Six Chinese players had service aces; China led this category 12-5; Russia led in blocking 14-7.

Neither team really got into a good rhythm early on but Russia had a two-point advantage at the first technical timeout. Both teams got their attacking games into gear in the second phase with leading scorer Tatiana Kosheleva ramming down a couple of smashes and Zeng Chunlei and Li Jing responding for China. China also got good blocks from 17-year-old Yuan Xinyue and Li as they maintained their two-point lead at the second TTO. China made a clear break from 17-16, taking four straight points thanks to poor play by the Russians and there was no way back for the European champions. Li brought up setpoint with a spike and Russia then failed to deal with a serve by Zeng, putting China 1-0 ahead.

China went 3-0 up in the second set with Li getting a point through a neatly placed tipover and Liu Xiaotong sending down a thunderbolt service. Despite some thunderbolts from Kosheleva, the Chinese were still ahead at the first TTO, 8-6. Poor Russian play saw the Chinese move two further points ahead before Kosheleva replied for Russia. After closing to within two points at 11-9, Russia again had a sloppy spell and after an ace by Yuan, coach Yury Marichev called his players off court. They were seven points back at the second TTO, again leaving them do much to do to win the set. Russia continued to have problems receiving serves with China dominating the service category 9-1 after the first two sets.

Russia got into a good spiking rhythm early in the third set and China had to respond with some sharp defending. Nataliya Goncharova started the set and brought some good hitting to her team as they led 8-6 at the first TTO. Iuliya Podskalnaya came up with a spike and a block on Yuan to put Russia four points ahead and China coach Lang Ping called a timeout. It didn’t do much good. China continued to struggle. Li managed a couple of hefty kills, but Kosheleva was getting good service and finding too many gaps in the Chinese defence and Russia were 16-10 up at the second TTO. At this point, China had only scored one blocking point. Zeng came up with a big kill and a service ace before China scored their second blocking point to make the score 23-20, forcing Marichev to call a timeout. China then came up with their third blocking point, but Li’s next slam found the net cord and trickled wide to give Russia setpoint. A Zeng rocket closed the gap again but a Kosheleva hit handed the set to Russia.

Kosheleva and Alexandra Pasynkova helped Russia to a two-point lead at the first TTO and it stayed close, with Russia narrowly ahead. A Podskalnaya block on Zeng brought a Chinese timeout at 14-11, after which the Russian did the same thing again. The Russians were four points ahead at the second TTO with the game heading for a fifth set. China closed to within two points at 19-17 after two Russian errors but that was as close as they could get and the match went to a deciding set. 

Russia were helped by a China errors early in the fifth set, while Kosheleva added to her scoring total with more big hits, putting the Russians three points ahead at the changeover. Goncharova came up with two good hits, but Russia called a timeout after a smash by Zeng and a block by Yang Junjing on Goncharova that made the score 9-8 to Russia. Zeng then served an ace to even the scores. Kosheleva sent down a rocket to make the score 13-12 before a Chinese error handed the Russians matchpoint. Zeng earned a one-point reprieve before Pasynkova blocked Zeng to end the match.


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