Kobe, Japan, September 29, 2018 - Russia rumbled to an impressive straight-sets victory over a plucky Trinidad and Tobago in the Group C opener at Kobe Green Arena on Saturday. Led by Nataliya Goncharova with 13 points, Russia won comfortably 25-21, 25-11, 25-12 in 67 minutes to ease into their World Championship journey.
Irina Koroleva and Kseniia Parubets both added nine points, including six blocks for Koroleva. Channon Thompson led the Trinidad and Tobago reply with 11 points, including 10 spikes, and left-hander Krystle Esdelle added nine.
The Russians had too much experience and too much power for their opponents, who produced flashes of individual brilliance but could not match the consistency and rhythm of their illustrious opponents.
Trinidad and Tobago's players were clearly going to enjoy themselves and produced some clean spikes out wide. The left-hander Krystle Esdelle caused Russia problems with her swirling serve and some flashing cross-court winners, while libero Afesha Olton pulled off some stunning defence work.
The mighty Russian block and all-round craft at the net and power out wide kept their opponents at a distance, and Nataliya Goncharova finished off the first set 25-21 with a typical ferocious spike.
In the second set, Irina Koroleva's inspiring work at the net work brought chants of "Monster Block" from the spectators as Russia built a handsome early lead, 8-2 at the first TTO.
When Russia's captain and setter, Evgeniya Startseva, astutely tipped over another winner, T&T called a TO to try and regroup under the Russian onslaught.
With Koroleva and Goncharova in fine form, Ksenila Parubets maintained the pressure on T&T and were determined for a quick finish.
It was no surprise when Parubets, on the left, ended the second set 25-11.
In the third set, Channon Thompson continued to trouble the Russian defence with some lusty blows as the crowd appreciated the defiance and panache of the NORCECA team.
The Russians were well in control at the second TTO, leading 16-9, and closed out the straight-sets victory 25-12.