In the duel for the last 2008 World Grand Prix spot between Italy and Russia, the “squadra azzurra” managed to stay cool, defeating the world champions from Russia in four sets. Italy was the more determined team in the first set (8-5, 16-13). The team of head coach Marco Bracci kept the upper hand until the end, and Valentina Fiorin’s killing spike gave them a 1:0 lead. Italy continued strongly in the second set, with efficient blocks of Sara Anzanello and Martina Guiggi (16-8 Italy). But, Russia woke up and stepped up the game with a killing block by Marina Akulova (20-19 Russia). Ekatarina Gamova’s spike concluded the set in Russians’ favor (25-23). Italy recaptured the lead in the third set (14-8 Italy). Russia tried to resist with its giants over the net. Nevertheless, the Italians played better (25-18). Same story in the last set; the Italians kept control, finally securing a well deserved 3:1 victory. Best scorer of the match was opposite hitter Ekaterina GAMOVA from Russia with 22 points, whilst Italian outside hitter Antonella DEL CORE booked 19 points for her team.
Knowing that they have already qualified for FIVB Grand Prix 2008 after the result of the Germany-Serbia encounter, the Turks started the match comfortably, maybe too comfortably (3-8, 10-16). Two consecutive killing blocks by Aysun Ozbek brought Turkey back in the set. However, the Bulgarians did not panic; Elena Koleva’s tip concluded the first set in Bulgarians favor. The Bulgarian show couldn’t be stopped in the second and third set; Radosv Teneva’s killing spike gave Bulgaria the second victory. Best scorers of the match were opposite hitters Neslihan Darnel (TUR) and Elena Koleva (BUL), both with 16 points.
In the first match of the day, Germany defeated Serbia in four sets. Germany took the lead from the beginning, especially thanks to outside-hitter Margareta Kozuch. Serbia lost concentration in the last part of the set; a service mistake made Germany happy (25-17). But the roles were completely changed in the second set. Powerful blocks gave the Serbians a comfortable lead (8-5, 16-11). Nevertheless, the Germans did not give up, reducing the gap on two points. But Serbia stayed calm; Brizitka Molnar’s killing spike concluded the set. The third set began again with a German dominance which they never relinquished. Vesna Citakovic’s net touch represented the 2:1 lead for Germany. The fourth set was Serbia’s last chance to qualify for 2008 World Grand Prix and the team of head coach Zoran Terzic started strongly. An attacking mistake Angelina Gruen’s gave a three-point advantage to Serbia (16-13). However, the Germans made up the leeway, finally claiming set and match. Best scorer of the match was Angelina Gruen from Germany with 28 points, whilst Serbian Jovana Brakocevic scored 20 points for her team. “I am very happy to be the champion. We worked a lot in this summer”, explained German captain Angelina Gruen after the match.
Germany, Turkey as well as Italy are qualified, together with Poland, for the 2008 World Grand Prix.
FIVB World Grand Prix 2008
1. GER 6-11 (16:4)
2. TUR 6-10 (12:10)
3. ITA 6-10 (12-10)
4. SRB 6-9 (14:11)
5. RUS 6-9 (13:12)
6. BUL 6-8 (7:14)
7. AZE 6-6 (5:18)