The 2010 World Championsips final will be between Russia & Brazil, after 2 very different semi-finals earlier today.
Russia defeated the USA with a convincing 3-1 victory ( (25-16, 13-25, 25-19, 25-21). Big Ekaterina Gamova topped the Russia’s scores with 22 points while veteran Liubov Shashkova and Tatiana Kosheleva registered 18 and 16 points respectively. American Destinee Hooker finished with a match-high 23 points. Three other USA players compiled double digits in scoring charts with Jordan Larson, Foluke Akinradewo and Heather Bown notching 15, 12 and 10 respectively.
Russia coach Vladimir Kuzyutkin: “I’m not totally pleased with the quality of our game today. Today’s game was more about mental toughness than technical skill. We didn’t really change our overall strategy, and that’s why we won.”
USA coach Hugh McCutcheon: “They were better than us today. I thought we tried to implement some plans & systems, but at the end of the day, the Russian team is quite physical, and they can do some things that other teams in the world cannot. We struggled to stop them, but we couldn’t. We learned lessons from today. We will come back tomorrow.”
In one of the greatest matches in volleyball history, Brazil came from two sets down to outlast Japan (22-25, 33-35, 25-22, 25-22 and 15-11) in a two-hour, 20 minute marathon semifinal in front of an ecstatic crowd of 12,000. Sheila and Natalia registered 25 and 23 points respectively while captain Fabiana added 20 to the winning effort. Thaisa and Jaqueline each charted 12 points. Japanese Yukiko Ebata and Saori Kimura compiled 29 and 25 points respectively while Ai Yamamoto tallied 11 points.
It was an amazing match, with some awesome defence from both teams. The second set was one of the greatest ever, with relentless ties and lead-changes, and unbreakable will to win on both sides. The set was eventually won by Japan in an epic point for Japan; Sano saved a spike off her shoulder, Takeshita dug out another ball, and finally Saori clinched the set 35-33, as the Japanese crowd fell over themselves in amazement, as their team led two sets to none.
Brazil are the Olympic champions and they were not going to give up…they made some changes in their team but the outcome was still a point for point match but at the key moments towards the end of the set, they delivered and won the next 2 sets 25-22. The 5th set, Brazil raised their game again..serving tough and blocking phenomenally. This was where the difference between the 2 teams lay…Brazil recording 21 blocks including 6 and 5 from Sheila and Fabiana.
Brazil coach Jose Guimaraes: “It was a very difficult match. Japan played a very good match, they really raised the level of their game. They attacked our second line of defense at the back. Ebata and Kimura overwhelmed us. Japan prepared for Brazil very well. Our blocks and defending didn’t always go well. Our concentration wasn’t always focused throughout such a long match, but in the fifth set, we could play our volleyball. Our players came up with three very important blocks in the tie-breaker.”
Brazil player Jaqueline Carvalho: “It was an incredibly amazing match. Japan is an incredible team, very fast. Even though there are only 6 of us on the court, all 14 players are together as one. Even when other players weren’t doing so great, other players stepped up to help us. The first and second set were really tough. This is a great win for Brazil.”
The hosts Japan were devastated to lose the match. Player Saori Kimura: “From the start, we really believed we weren’t going to lose. We played very well at first. This is the best match we have played until now, I think. It is very excruciating to lose in the end”.
When asked about the fourth set, when she was blocked consecutively; “I thought I must get a point for our team, but I couldn’t see that Brazil sent three blockers up. So I get blocked, and it was very painful. We couldn’t win points at crucial moments. That was the biggest reason why we lost. It was very big when we couldn’t win the set at the end, after we were leading. Our service misses were very big. Even though we are very disappointed after this loss today, we still have a chance to win a medal tomorrow, and we have to play our best as a team.”
The 2010 FIVB Women’s World Championship gold medal match will take place tomorrow at the at Yoyogi National Stadium in Tokyo, Japan.