Russia is the last team to book a spot in tomorrow’s semifinals
2012 Olympic Games - European Qualification
Ankara, Turkey, May 4, 2012. Russia became the last team to book a spot in tomorrow’s semifinals at the 2012 Olympic Games - European Qualification for women. It claimed second place in Pool II by defeating the Netherlands 3:1 (23-25, 25-11, 25-16, 25-14) in the crucial last match of pool play in the Turkish capital Ankara. Russia will face hosts Turkey in the second semifinal tomorrow, while Poland and Germany will battle in the first one.
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The Dutch team displayed a great ambition to upset the reigning world champions in this match and took control of the game. The Oranjes attacked somewhat more efficiently than their opponents and that is what gave them the edge in the first set. They took an early 5-point lead at 9-4 and managed to stay ahead through the end of the set. Russia was able to reduce its lag to only 1 point at 23-24, but Manon Flier attacked the last ball demonstrating some great technique to close the set.
In the second set Sergey Ovchinnikov’s team started its real comeback. The Russian hitters were merciless in their attacks, while the block erected a true wall in front of the Dutch offense. Liubov Shashkova (better known as Sokolova) and Ekaterina Gamova kept bombarding their opponents’ side of the court with unstoppable blasts. The three sets that followed were very one-sided and the world champions completely demolished the hearty team of Gido Vermeulen.
Russian stars Gamova and Sokolova ended up as the game’s top scorers with 18 and 17 points respectively. The Dutch captain Manon Flier was most prolific for her team with 13 points on her tally. ”It was disappointing for us,” she said. ”We started well and tried to make it hard for Russia, but it was so difficult to play against the world champion. After the beginning of the second set, they took control of the match, played well and we could not display our fighting spirit as we did in the match against Serbia.” Her head coach Gido Vermeulen agreed: ”We started well in the first set. However, Russia was better in the rest of the match. We tried to fight, but it did not work. They showed their level from the World Championship.”
”The first set was great for the Dutch team, but from the second set on, we put our power into the game and this helped us win,” the head coach of Russia Sergey Ovchinnikov commented. ”It was a good game for us. As we play Turkey in the semifinal, tomorrow will be a new day for us,” Russian captain Maria Borisenko stated.