Russia Takes Revenge on France, Advances to Volleyball Finals

Again, the Russian national team will play the decisive game of a volleyball competition.

After getting the silver medal in the Olympic Games two years ago and first place in the last World League championship, the Russian Rockets prepare to meet Brazil in the World Championship finals.

Russia defeated France after an exciting five set game, which proved why it was considered a certain candidate to win the tournament. In a two hour match, the team coached by Guennadi Chipouline, struggled hard against the fierce resistance of its French opponent.

The evening in Buenos Aires had started well for Russia. The first set showed a very focused team in defence, which allowed an excellent performance of its attackers. A number of unforced mistakes on the French side gave Russia a chance to open a six point gap after the second technical time out and close out the set 25-19.

France's great defence appeared in the second set in spite of the great pressure Russia caused with its serves. However, Russia could not keep the level of play and the French managed to open and maintain an eight-point difference thanks to its own skills and rival weaknesses. Stephane Antiga led France to win the second set by 25-16.

In the third set, Russia rapidly recovered and took the lead. With three blocks and five points, Serguei Tetioukhine allowed his team to assume control of the game. In spite of bad reception, only 26 percent, the Russians took the third set 25-20.

In the beginning of the fourth set, it looked like Russia would not have problems and would close out the match quickly. However, with seven consecutive points thanks to Frantz Granvorka unstoppable serve, France took the lead. The set stayed in French favour, even with the seven points of Russian spiker Roman Iakovlev.

The public, which started to crowd the stadium by the time the Argentine game got closer noisily supported Russia by celebrating each point as if Argentina was the team on the court.

Backed by local attendance, the Russians took advantage of the mistakes of their rivals and opened a three point gap. Then the greatest Russian weapon appeared in the game to close out the match: the block. Once more, Russia built a wall over the net and controlled the French attack until the end. Roman Iakovlev was the best scorer of the game with 28 points, followed by his teammate Serguei Tetioukhine with 21.

On Sunday, Russia will meet Brazil in the finals, as the South Americans defeated Yugoslavia in the semifinals. This is the second time this year both teams will face each other in the decisive match. Two months ago Russia won the World League on Brazilian soil before a hostile attendance. Now, backed by the Argentine spectators, Russians will be the locals but nothing will be decided until the last point.

Hernan Etchaleco PRAVDA.Ru Argentina