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Russia to meet Brazil at volleyball worlds

Defending champions Russia powered their way through to the final by beating the United States at the world women's volleyball championship on Saturday.

The Russian spikers, also five-time winners as the former Soviet Union, scored a 25-16, 13-25, 25-19, 25-21 victory over the Beijing Olympic silver medallists in the semifinals.

"I’m not totally pleased with the quality of our game today. Today’s game was more about mental toughness than technical skill. We didn’t really change our overall strategy. That’s why we won," said Russia coach Vladimir Kuzyutkin.

"We don't know yet whom we will play tomorrow. Like the last 10 matches, we will stay with our strategies and try to win. We just have to stay focused on the match tomorrow."

US coach Hugh McCutcheon said of Russia: "They were better than us today. From our end, I thought we tried to implement some plans and systems, but at the end of the day, the Russian team is quite physical.

"They can do some things that other teams in the world cannot. We struggled to stop them, but we couldn’t. We learned lessons from today. We will come back tomorrow and try to do the best we can."

McCutcheon said the American women's serves helped them take the second set, but the Russians improved their receiving of serves in the remainder of the 93-minute match.

The United States have never won the three major tournaments – the Olympics, the world championship and the World Cup.

In the final on Sunday, Russia will play Beijing Olympic gold medallists Brazil, who recovered from a slow start to beat hosts Japan in a hard-fought encounter 22-25, 33-35, 25-22, 25-22, 15-11

"It was a very difficult match," Brazil coach Jose Guimaraes said. "Japan played a very good match, they really raised the level of their game. They attacked our second line of defense at the back."

Sheila Castro and Natalia Pereira powered the Brazilian attack with 25 and 23 points respectively. Yukiko Ebata led Japan with 29 points.

Japan was making its first semifinal appearance in 28 years.

Playoffs for 5th-8th places
Turkey bt Germany 3-2 (25-23, 25-18, 14-25, 20-25, 15-11)
Italy bt Serbia 3-0 (25-20, 25-15, 25-22)

Playoffs for 9th-12th places
Poland bt Netherlands 3-2 (24-26, 25-22, 25-22, 19-25, 15-9
China bt Cuba 3-1 (16-25, 25-22, 25-19, 25-22)


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