Kobe, Japan, October 2, 2018 - Rampant Russia produced a high-octane display to roll past Azerbaijan 3-0 and extend their win-loss record to 3-0 in Pool C action at Kobe Green Arena on Tuesday afternoon.
Playing at a pace and with an intensity that Azerbaijan could not match, world No. 5 Russia won 25-21, 25-21, 25-22 against the 24th ranked Azerbaijan, who slipped to 1-2 after three matches.
Nataliya Goncharova came into this match with 42 points and added 17 points here, with 15 spikes, and Kseniia Parubets added 13, with 11 spikes. Polina Rahimova led the reply with 19 points for Azerbaijan, with 14 spikes, three blocks and two jump-serve aces.
Russia started strongly, with wing spiker Kseniia Parubets looking back to her best and leading scorer Nataliya Goncharova quickly into her athletic attacking groove.
Azerbaijan's spiking machine Polina Rahimova, who had scored 47 points in the first two matches, showed her prowess on both wings to keep her team in touch, but Jana Kulan was struggling against the Russian block.
Russia led 16-11 at the second TTO and Azerbaijan decided to give Kulan a rest and bring in Natalya Mammadova, who quickly discovered the effectiveness of the Russian block.
Although Azerbaijan pulled to within one point at 22-21, Russia clicked just at the right time to take the first set 25-21.
The Russian block maintained its ruthless consistency in the second set, forcing the Azerbaijan spikers into attacking errors, and a swirling ace from middle blocker Ekaterina Efimova added to Azerbaijan's problems. Voronkova followed suit with a more powerful service ace a few points later.
Azerbaijan withdrew both Rahimova and Kulan at one point as the set progressed and introduced fresh faces to present new challenges to Russia. This worked for a while, but once again Russia pulled clear at the perfect time to take the second set 25-21 for 2-0, with Parubets prominent.
Olena Hasanova pulled off a fine block early in the third set to lift Azerbaijan and then added an angled spike from the right after running round the setter to outsmart the Russian defence. Fellow middle blocker Aynur Imanova also caused problems for the Russian block to keep Azerbaijan in touch.
Leading 16-12 at the second TTO, Koroleva finished off one of the best rallies of the match to force Azerbaijan into a TO trailing 22-19. Russia finished it 25-22 with a Goncharova blast for 3-0.