Last updated at: (Beijing Time) Monday, August 05, 2002

Russia Beats China 3-1 to Win Women's Volleyball Grand Prix Finals

Sydney Olympic silver medalists Russia beat China 29-27, 23-25, 25-20 and 25-21 Sunday in Hong Kong to claim their third World Grand Prix title.


Russia beats China 3-1 to win Grand Prix title
Sydney Olympic silver medalists Russia beat China 29-27, 23-25, 25-20 and 25-21 Sunday in Hong Kong to claim their third World Grand Prix title.

The Russian women, who had won the Grand Prix in 1997 and 1999,also received the 200,000 US dollars winner's prize.

Star spiker Evgueniya Artamonova, who helped Russia win the 93-minute match with 26 points, emerged as the Most Valuable Player of the Finals.

The Chinese women, bidding to win their first Grand Prix title,put up strong resistance from the start but could hardly stop Artamonova and the 2.04-meter Ekaterina Gamova, who added 20 killsfor Russia.

Despite the second loss in three days to Russia, Chinese head coach Chen Zhonghe was satisfied with the team's performance.

"I am satisfied, we played a good game today," Chen said. "However, the Russian team did better, especially in attacking and serving."

"Actually, they had better success percentage in attacking and blocking than we did," he added.

Russian coach Nikolai Karpol also praised the Chinese team.

"It's a difficult game, China played very well and they had a lot energy," he said. "But we did win at last."

Though, Karpol did not take China as their only title opponentsat the upcoming world championship in Germany.

"China, the United States, Italy and Russia all have a chance to win," he said.

Trailing 19-12 in the first set, China pulled within 23-22 and withstood three set points for a 27-26 led. However, Russia ran off three straight points to win the set.

Driven by strong performance from ace spiker Yang Hao, who led the hosts with 14 attacking points, China came back to win the second set 25-23. With Russia trailing 24-23, Elena Godina servedout to surrender the game.

China got within 21-19 and 20-18 in the third and fourth set respectively but faded both times.

Yang Hao, who recorded two aces on Sunday, won the Best Server Reward, and her teammate Zhao Ruirui became the Most Popular Player. The other awards went to Tichtchenko Elizaveta of Russia (the Best Spiker), Brazilian Valeska Menezes (the Best Blocker) and Oliveira Fabiana (the Best Libero).

Earlier Sunday, Germany rallied past Brazil 3-1 to win the bronze medal.

The Europeans, hosts to the World Championship set for August 30 to September 15, outplayed Brazil 18-25, 25-17, 28-26 and 25-16for their best finish in the history at the annual tournament.

Germany's South Korean coach Lee Hee Wan was more than happy with the results.

"Today is an important day for German volleyball," Lee said. "Iam proud of my team and the players."

Germany ousted Olympic and world champions Cuba and defending Grand Prix champions the United States in the preliminary rounds for a berth in the Finals.

The Brazilians, who won the Grand Prix title in 1994, 1996 and 1998, settled for the fourth place.

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