Serbia won't defend the title of European Champion. Russia don't give Serbia any chance, beating team from Balkans in three straight sets.
RUSSIA - SERBIA 3-0 (25-23 25-19 25-12)
Line-ups and scores:
Russia: Pankova (3), Kosheleva (13), Shlyakhovaya (7), Obmochaeva (10), Pasynkova (11), Morozova (12), Kryuchkova (L), Malova (L) and Malykh, Dianskaya, Chaplina
Serbia: Ognjenovic (3), Nikolic (8), Rasic (8), Brakocevic (17), Molnar (5), Krsmanovic (2), Cebic (L) and Malagurski (4), Malesevic, Veljkovic (1), Bjelica, Zivkovic
The duel between reigning World and European champions started with a slight advantage for Russia. Russian setter Ekaterina Pankova quickly forced her middles, especially Iuliia Morozova who found several gaps in Serbia’s defense. At the first technical time-out, the team of head coach Yuriy Marichev led 8-4. However, Serbia bounced back rapidly with Jovana Brakocevic serving the Mikasa in between of two Russian passers. Serbia had reduced the gap to one point at the second technical break. The titleholders, still playing with Brizitka Molnar for injured Brankica Mihajlovic at the left side, did their best to control the powerful and fast Russian game. Nevertheless, it was not good enough as, at 18-21, Serbia’s head coach Zoran Terzic called his ladies off court to rearrange their team tactics. It did not help. Tatiana Kosheleva, with a blistering winner from the right side, ended the first set in Russia’s favour to make it 1:0 for the world No. 6. The figures spoke for themselves in the opening set: Russia had committed 3 errors, Serbia 11!
The story of the match did not change in the second set. The Terzic squad hardly found a way to overcome the strong Russian defence. Combined with too many unforced errors in passing and serving, the Serbian quickly lost focus. On the other side, the Russian did an excellent job with dominant net play and sharp serves. At the second technical time-out, Russia already led by six points. Terzic sent in Sanja Malagurski for Molnar to reinforce the Serbian offense. However, there was no formula for Serbia to stop the outstanding Russian game. Kosheleva moved the scoreboard forward for the 2010 world champions (23-16). Serbia saved two set balls before opposite Natalya Obmochaeva concluded the set with a remarkable diagonal spike at 25-19.
Terzic tried a new line-up at the start of the third set. Instead of helpless Molnar, he sent in Malagurski as outside hitter. It did not help at all as the Serbians, once again, quickly lost control of the set (4-10). Poor serving (11 mistakes in total) and insufficient receiving were two of the many reasons of Russia’s supremacy today. On the other hand, the 5.000 spectators saw an exceptional Russian team with big determination, physical and mental command and a perfect game plan. With eight block kills in the last set (18 in total), the Russians were the undoubted queens at the net. The Serbian players did their best to bounce back, but there was no way for a comeback. Another successful block winner on Jelena Nikolic ended the third set 25-12 (!) and today’s first semi-final duel at Max-Schmeling-Halle 3:0 for Russia.
Russia captain Ekaterina Pankova: „I didn´t expect such an easy match. During the game, we suddenly realized it was possible.”
Russia head coach Yuriy Marichev: „I´m very satisfied. We had a good preparation. The key factor in today’s match was a strong defence against the Serbian’s opposite players, mainly Jovana Brakocevic. It worked as expected.”
Serbia captain Maja Ognjenovic: „I can´t remember a team beat us in this way. I don´t know the reasons, I´m still shocked. I hope tomorrow we will play with more energy and spirit.”
Serbia head coach Zoran Terzic: “Congratulations to the Russian team. They played very well. We had absolutely no chance. We made it much too easy for them. We played well against Italy in the quarterfinals, but could not repeat our strong performance tonight. I do not know why.”
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