A close match, but a big win for Russia: 3:1 vs Bulgaria
Modena, Italy. October 1, 2014 – With Serbia’s victory over the Netherlands earlier on, Russia needed point to keep the third place in the FIVB Volleyball Women’s World Championship 2014 Pool F; but Bulgaria needed to win even more, having only three points and still hoping to get to the final six. In the end Russia was victorious 3-1 (25-23, 25-15, 26-28, 25-19) retaining the third place in Pool F.
Russia’s Tatiana Kosheleva was the leading scorer with 26 points. Ekaterina Gamova provided 18 points in the win. Aces had a big role in Russia’s win (8 in the whole match) as well as in Bulgaria’s third set comeback (6). Bulgaria was led by Elitsa Vasileva's 16 points and Dobriana Rabadzhieva added 13 points. Russia maintained an 18-9 block advantage.
- Russia restarted what they hope to be another long win streak. Last Sunday, Russia’s 17-match winning streak came to an end as they lost 3-1 against United States. It was their first defeat in the competition since 12 November 2006, when they lost 3-1 against Brazil.
- Russia have never lost back-to-back matches at the World Championship since the dissolution of Soviet Union. Soviet Union most recently lost two straight in 1986, against East Germany and China.
- The reigning champions are unbeaten against CEV sides since competing as “Russia” (since 1994) at the World Championship. They won all 16 matches including nine in straight sets.
As predicted, the match was too close to call in its early part, with Russia as the favorite but Bulgaria ahead at the first technical timeout (8:6) thanks to three points over three offensive attempts by Dobriana Rabadzhieva. Coach Marichev was forced to make early changes, sending Kosianenko and Makykh in for Gamova and Startseva. A second line attack by Pasynkova allowed Russia to even the score (15:15), before a big block by Gamova gave them the lead (17:16). Again Gamova, with her poisonous serve, took Russia ahead by six (23:17), but just when the first set seemed closed, poor receiving from Russia gave Rabadzhieva and Ruseva the chance to reopen it (24:23) before Kosheleva closed it from zone 4 (25:23).
Hristina Ruseva kept being the first offensive option for Bulgaria in the second set, scoring her sixth in the early part (3:3) with an 80% attacking efficiency; but Russia kept pushing and took a three-point lead (6:3) with Alexandra Pasynkova. Three consecutive blocks by Regina Moroz gave Russia a six-point lead (11:5). An ace by Kosheleva and a smart lob by Startseva – in again for Kosianenko – increased Russian lead to seven points (19:12) And Russia did not turn back (25:15).
Ahead again in the early third (8:4), Russia kept the lead with the attacks by middle-blocker Moroz and Pasynkova strong serve, while Gamova did the rest hitting hard from zone 2 (12:8). A block by Startseva increased the Russian lead to five (23:18); but Bulgaria was not beaten yet, and took advantage of three consecutive mistakes by Gamova and Kosheleva to even the score and incredibly take the lead (25:24) thanks to a seven-point run. Kosheleva fixed her own damage by scoring twice to equalize (26:26) but an ace by Vasileva made the impossible become possible (28:26).
In the fourth, Kosheleva started strong with three consecutive points (two blocks) for Russia’s early lead (3:0) and another block before the first technical timeout (8:3). Nasya Dimitrova was sent in by coach Kuzyutkin and immediately scored two aces to narrow the gap (9:6), and Nikolova followed with one on her own (10:8), before Gamova came back in the game with three winning attacks (15:10). An ace by Dimitrova again helped Bulgaria keep the pace, but Kosheleva (four blocks in the set) helped Russia maintain a strong lead (22:15). Bulgaria tried the miracle comeback again, but this time Russia was more consistent and closed the match with Gamova’s block (25:19).