Montreux, Switzerland, September 8, 2018- Russia rose to the occasion to end the only unbeaten record left at this year’s Montreux Masters, outclassing Giovanni Guidetti’s Turkey 1:3 (17-25, 25-20, 15-25, 21-25) in the last of the semi-finals at Salle Omnisports du Pierrier to advance to Sunday’s final and close a Super Saturday comprising of four dramatic fixtures in fitting style.
The tournament’s leading markswoman, Nataliya Goncharova, provided the cutting edge again on the big occasion for Vadim Pankov’s Sbornaya, as he hit 19 points against the Turks to help fire her country into Sunday’s final, and she reclaims her place atop the points scoring charts with 70 across the tournament, having been temporarily usurped at the summit by Poland’s Malwina Smarzek. She and her team will grace the great occasion (09.09.18. 16:00 CET), with Turkey meeting deposed champions Brazil in the Battle for Bronze (09.09.18. 13:30 CET).
Now comfortable on-court, the second set heralded a marked improvement in performance The first set was dominated by the Russians, Goncharova providing the primary threat with the added danger of teammates Nataliya Krotkova and Ksenia Parubets also causing the Turks numerous problems. A reactionary time-out called by Turkey coach Guidetti triggered a rapid-change in tactics as their play became noticeably defensive, a focus on blocking and careful setting of the ball to Middle Blocker Eda Erdem Dundar and their own leading scorer, Meryem Boz. Though insufficient to stem Russia’s momentum, the contingency plan secured Turkey a more respectable, if still painful, 17-25 loss in the first set as the Sbornaya seized the initiative.
from the Turks, efficient setting of the ball into sharp diagonal spikes yielding an advantage in the set. But Russia’s own countermeasure was forthcoming, as Irina Fetisova came up trumps defensively, en route to a total of six block points throughout the game. Though the presence and energy of Turkey’s Erdem Dundar would eventually culminate in a 25-20 second set win for Guidetti’s team as the ‘Sultans of the Net’ restored parity.
The third set exposed Turkey’s susceptibility to individual errors, however, as Russia took back the initiative and began to craft a means of winning the key rallies. Instinctive blocking from Fetisova accumulated a succession of points on the scoreboard for Russia that helped Pankov’s side to a comfortable 15-25 third set win to abruptly snatch back the lead 1:2.
Aggression was the name of the game for the fourth set, powerful smashes and spikes being traded between the teams in increasingly fast-paced and desperate rallies. Both teams seemed to have met their match as an iron-fisted deuce exerted its grip on two teams of visibly tiring players. Faults and fumbles plagued both sides as the scores crawled upwards, both sides settled in for the long haul. Again, however, the Russians found an edge, their experience over Turkey’s young guns helping them establish a breakout lead of 17-21 as the game broke the two hour mark. Goncharova reared her head again to torment the Turks, as she helped the Sbornaya position themselves at match-point, 21-24. A place in the final one score away, they weren’t to let it slip, hammering their way into the final as a spike was fired across caught beyond the despairing dive of Boz to seal Turkey’s fate and take Russia one step closer to glory.