U.S. Women Upset Top-Ranked Russia at World Championships

Sept. 2, 2002

Riesa, Germany - The seventh time proved to be the charm for the UnitedStates.

After six losses in six matches against Russia in the 2002 season, theU.S. women's national volleyball team found payback in a big way Saturdaynight by posting a stunning 3-2 win over the world's No. 1-ranked team onthe second day of the 2002 Women's Volleyball World Championships atSachsen Arena.

Middle blocker Danielle Scott and outside hitter Keba Phipps each scored17 points to lead the United States to a 22-25, 25-22, 25-23, 19-25, 15-8victory, the second win in two nights in Pool C for the Americans.

'This was a great victory and an important win for our ranking andplacement to advance to the next round,' said Scott. '(We) did a good jobof blocking at key moments in the match as well as making key defensiveplays that gave us an opportunity for out-of-system scoring. We now needto keep building from here.'

Scott (Baton Rouge, La./Long Beach State) had 11 kills and a match-high-tying six blocks, while Phipps (Lakewood, Calif./Foppapedretti Bergamo)registered 11 kills, five blocks and one service ace. As a team, theUnited States held a slight edge over Russia in blocking, 17-15. Scottleads all blockers in the tournament with an average of 1.38 per set,while middle blocker Heather Bown ranks ninth with 1.00 blocks per set.

'Of course this victory gives us a boost, perhaps even more energy forthe upcoming matches - especially bearing in mind that we didn't have along preparation for the World Championship,' said Team USA head coachToshi Yoshida. 'However, I want to remind you that we're still in thefirst round.'

Outside hitter Logan Tom (Salt Lake City, Utah/Stanford) added 13 pointson nine kills, a match-high three aces and one block, while Bown (YorbaLinda, Calif./Hawai'i) had 12 points on eight kills, three blocks and oneace.

'Tonight was a great team win. The atmosphere on the court was awesome,'said starting setter Jen Flynn (Pittsburgh, Pa./Ohio State). 'Everyonecame to win tonight and you could see it in everyone's eyes. Our blockingand defense were keys to the victory. It's always great to win against ateam like Russia, but it's only the beginning. We have to maintain thisfocus as we continue through this tournament.'

Ekaterina Gamova scored a match-high 27 points on 21 kills and six blocksto lead Russia (1-1 in Pool C), the silver medallist at the 2000 OlympicGames in Sydney, Australia. Evguenia Artamonova added 15 points for theRussians, while Elizaveta Tichtchenko chipped in with 14 points.

Russia, one of the favorites to win the World Championship, won a pair ofprestigious tournaments earlier this summer - the Montreux Volley Mastersin Switzerland in June and the World Grand Prix in Hong Kong earlier thismonth - to solidify its hold on the world's No. 1 ranking. The Russianswon a pair of five-set matches against the United States at the GrandPrix in pool play after taking all four meetings when the U.S. played afriendly series in Moscow and Tula immediately following the MontreuxVolley Masters in June.

On paper, the Americans figure to be favored in their remaining threePool C matches against the Dominican Republic (tomorrow), Puerto Rico(Monday) and Kenya (Tuesday). But in order to advance to the second roundit must avoid a letdown following Saturday's monumental win and beat theteams it is supposed to beat.

'We're very pleased with our performance; it's good for our mentalstrength,' said USA team captain Tara Cross-Battle. 'Nevertheless westill have a long way to go and have to concentrate upon tomorrow'sopponent.'

courtesy of USA Volleyball

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