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Date: 12/18/2009

For the fourth time in the last eight years, Russia will have the chance to become World Champion like 2001, 2005 and 2007.In a very one sided semifinal the current titleholder beat Olympics champion Norway 28:20 (17:12) and now will meet France in the final, as Norway play the Bronze final against Spain. As the Russians danced on the field, Norway left the hall with their heads down The Eastern Europeans showed a brilliant defense that didn’t allow Norwegian counter attacks to develop. “Russia was too good for us today, we missed the chances and they scored”, Norwegian player Kari Mette Johanssen said. 

It was the fifth final or semifinal of both teams in the last few years: Norway had won the Olympics final 2008 in Beijing, the EURO 2006 final in Sweden and the EURO semifinal 2008 in Macedonia, Russia had won the WCH final 2007 in France. Right before the final, Norwegian playmaker KristineLunde became fit and could join the match together with her sister Katrine, the Norwegian goalkeeper, but in the end, she couldn’t help her team  The Olympics champion had the better start, thanks to their strong counter attacks and pivots. Norway led 8:5 and 11:8, but right after that the Northern Europeans had their weakest period in attack. As the Russian defense stood like a wall and goalkeeper Inna Suslina saved some important shots, Russia improved completely. Thanks to their back court players, especially Liudmila Postnova, Russia scored a series of 8:0 goals, turned the match completely and led 16:11. The Norwegian attack missed some good ideas and inspiration – and the current title holder led at the break surprisingly clear 17:12. But the Norwegians didn’t give up. By changing their defense they had more ball possessions and by this more counter attacks. But at the score of 16:19, Russia found back their rhythm – and interrupted the counter attacks again. And when they had to attack from the nine meter line, Norway didn’t find holes in the sensational aggressive and fast Russian defense. And the number of errors in the Norwegian game rose, Russia extended the lead again to 23:17 in minute 47 and 25:18 in minute 52. The Russians were on the winner’s way, but had to give all they can until the end to reach the final again. Vetkova decided the match finally with her goal at the score of 26:20 in minute 58. Top scorers were Postnova with six goals for Russia and Riegelhuth and Frafjord with each four goals for Norway. “ a victory is a victory”, Russian  coach Jewgeny Trefilow said with his typical humor, “and I don’t know, if anyone can foresee such a clear result, except god in the sky. As we have a new team, this success is very important for us, but we have a lot of work ahead before the final against France.” Norwegian assistant coach Mia Hermanson was disappointed, but said:  “Russia was the much better team, we’re not satisfied, but we lost against a team with a very strong defense.” Trefilow aside praised goalkeeper Inna Suslina: “She played brilliant.”

For the first time in the women’s WCH, Russia and France meet in the finals – and one of both teams have won the gold medals in the last eight years. Russia had won the WCH’s 2001, 2005 and 2007, France was the winner in 2003.