Kaliningrad, July 11, 2015 – Russia beat Serbia 3-2 (25-23, 17-25, 20-25, 26-24, 15-8) to narrowly win their FIVB World Grand Prix fixture on Saturday.
The first set was very tight, with the score running up to 21-21. Nataliya Goncharova and Ekaterina Orlova scored well for Russia, with Milena Rasic and Bianka Busa replying on the Serbian side of the net. Goncharova helped Russia edge it in the final moments: they won 25-23.
Busa hit form as Serbia streaked ahead in set two, though, and they blocked and spiked much better than in the first, winning it 25-17. And with stronger spiking and reception, they took set three (25-20) as well, to go 2-1 up. But Russia, with Alexandra Pasynkova and Ekaterina Lyubushkina adding to the offensive menace, struck back to level the game – just – at 2-2 (26-24), forcing a decisive fifth set.
And it was the home side that held their nerve, with Kseniia Ilchenko hitting a huge winner as they took the crucial set 15-8, and the match 3-2. Nataliya Goncharova was the top scorer in the match with 19 points. Milena Rasic got 14 for Serbia. Read our live text commentary of the match here