Russia’s women* claimed an impressive first sitting volleyball world title on Saturday (21 July) with a stunning 3-1 victory (18-25, 27-25, 26-24, 26-24) over Paralympic champions USA in Rotterdam, Netherlands.
The World No.7 side and European champions showed amazing character and determination to fight back from one set down to deny the world No. 1 team a first world title. Russia’s victory was also sweet revenge for the straight sets defeat USA handed them during the pool stages.
The gold medal match was synonymous with amazing rallies right from the start of the match.
The battle at the net, especially between the tournament’s Most Complete Player Iuliia Mednikova of Russia and USA captain and the tournament’s Best Blocker Katie Hollaway was a joy to watch, with both players fully committed on attack and defence.
Mednikova had able lieutenants in Olga Arbatskaia and Irina Panina while Heather Nicole Erickson and Nicole Nieves were great attacking options for the US.
For Russia, the gold medal adds to the bronze medal they won in 2014 while for USA, it is the third edition in a row they have picked up the silver medal after losing the World Championship final to China in 2014 and 2010. Both teams had already qualified for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics having reached the final.
Earlier in the day, defending two-time world champions China beat Italy 3-0 (25-10, 25-19, 25-12) to win the bronze medal while Brazil finished fifth after beating the Ukraine 3-0 (25-16, 25-15, 25-21). Canada finished seventh following a 3-1 (25-18, 25-18, 19-25, 27-25) win over hosts the Netherlands.
Men’s finalists decided
In the Hague, the men’s semi-finals took place and determined that the world champions Bosnia and Herzegovina will play Paralympic champions Iran in Sunday’s final.
Iran showed why they are consistently ranked as one of the top teams in the world as they qualified with a convincing 3-0 (25-13, 25-19, 25-13) win over the Ukraine.
Bosnia and Herzegovina beat the three-time world champions Brazil in the second semi-final 3-1 (21-25, 25-14, 25-22, 25-16) to set-up a mouth-watering final.
Bosnia and Herzegovina beat Iran in the 2006 final before the result was reversed in 2010. Bosnia and Herzegovina beat Brazil for the title four years ago.
In reaching the final Iran and Bosnia and Herzegovina qualified for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics.
Full results and more information can be found on World ParaVolley’s website.
*Editor's note: The International Paralympic Committee suspended the Russian Paralympic Committee on 7 August 2016 for its inability to fulfil its IPC membership responsibilities and obligations, in particular its obligation to comply with the IPC Anti-Doping Code and the World Anti-Doping Code (to which it is also a signatory). As a result of the suspension, Russian athletes cannot enter IPC sanctioned events or competitions, including the Paralympic Games.