Super Final 2012 (Women): Australia, Greece, Russia and USA make good start in game opener

World League

CHINA, Changshu (May 29) - The ninth edition of the FINA Women's Water Polo World League Super Final successfully kicked off in Changshu (CHN) where eight world-class women's water polo teams will fight for the podium during an exciting six days. In the preliminary games of Group A and B, defending champion USA eclipsed host China 10-6, world champion Greece comfortably edged Germany 16-11, world number 3 Russia had a solid win over Italy 16-3 and 2011 World League bronze-medallist Australia crushed Canada 20-4. 

Match reports:

Game 1, RUSSIA 16 - ITALY 3
(7-3, 3-1, 2-0, 4-1)
Referees: Kazuhiko Makita, Amber Marie Drury-Pinto
ITALY: Federica Eugenia Lavi, Ursula Gitto, Martina Verducci, Giulia Viacava, Alessia Millo, Laura Repetto, Giovanna Pellegrino, Claudia Marletta, Valeria Grazia Palmieri, Carla Carrega, Giusy Citino, Francesca Pomeri (captain), Sara Dario. Head coach: Paolo Zizza.
RUSSIA: Maria Kovtunovskaia, Nadezhda Fedotova, Ekaterina Prokofyeva, Sofya Konukh (captain), Alexandra Antonova, Victoria Kurochkina, Ekaterina Tankeeva, Marina Kalyagina, Ksenia Krimer, Olga Belova, Evgeniya Ivanova, Diana Antonova, Anna Karnaukh. Head coach: Alexander Kabanov.

Russia dominated the match from the very beginning, putting constant pressure on the Italian squad, whose biggest assets are missing. Russia scored first after 34 seconds in the first quarter. Though Italy tied 1:1 less than one minute later, Tankeeva (RUS) quickly caught up, scoring a day-high five goals with teammates Fedotova and Belova adding four and three goals each, respectively, for a clean win.

RUS vs ITA - credit: Han Yuqing
RUS vs ITA - credit: Han Yuqing

Game 2, USA 10 - CHINA 6
(3-3, 0-2, 4-1, 3-0)
Referees: Denis Danelon, Emanuel Taylan
USA: Elizabeth Armstrong, Heather Petri, Melissa Seidemann, Brenda Villa (captain), Lauren Wengerl, Margaret Steffens, Courtney Mathewson, Jessica Steffens, Elsie Windes, Kelly Rulon, Annika Dries, Kameryn Craig, Tumuaialii Anae. Head coach: Adam Krikorian.
CHINA: Yang JUn, Teng Fei, Liu Ping, Sun Yujun, He Jin, Sun Yating, Song Donglun, Gao Ao, Wang Yi, Ma Huanhuan (captain), Sun Huizi, Zhang Lei, Wang Ying. Head coach: Juan Jane Giralt.

Despite a slow start, six-time World League champions USA came from behind to beat world runner-up China 10-6. The host squad had the edge in the first half of the game with a safe 5-3 lead. Soon the Americans strengthened their defence and narrowed the gap in the last two quarters for a decisive win.

"It is always very hard to play the first game, in any meet. Our players were very nervous at the beginning, but as soon as they settled down, they played much better," said U.S. head coach Adam Krikorian.

For China's head coach Juan Jane Giralt, his players made too many mistakes in the second half: "We only performed well for the first two quarters, then we were in a mess, especially in the defence. I don't think it is a problem of strength. It is a problem of the way of thinking and playing ball game."

USA vs CHN - credit: Han Yuqing
USA vs CHN - credit: Han Yuqing

Game 3, GREECE 16 - GERMANY 11
(4-3, 4-3, 5-2, 3-3)
Referees: Critina Taccini, Dreval Svetlana
GREECE: Eleni Kouvdou, Christina Chrysoula Tsoukala, Christina Kotsia, Ilektra Maria Psouni, Stefania Charalampidi, Alkisti Avramidou, Asimaki Avramidou, (captain), Ioanna Charalampidi, Eleftheria Plevritou, Manolioudaki Triantaf, Margarita Plevritou, Stamatina Koutogianni, Vasiliki Diamantopoulou. Head coach: Gerorgios Morfesis.
GERMANY: Bianca Ahrens, Jasmin Krieter, Tatjana Steinhauer, Carolin Seifert, Claudia Blomenkamp, Anja Seyfert, Monika Kruszona, Claudia Kern, Kim Illinger, Jenny Stiefel, Carmen Gelse (captain), Bianca Seyfert, Jana Lueg. Head coach: Rene Reimann.

The German squad did not let it go until the final whistle in what was a hard-fought game against the reigning world champions, Greece. In the fourth quarter, Christina Chrysoula Tsoukala, Loanna Charalampdi and captain Alexandra Asimaki scored one goal each, sealing Greece's victory.

GRE vs GER - credit: Han Yuqing
GRE vs GER - credit: Han Yuqing

(7-3, 4-0, 5-1, 4-0)
Referees: Alxl Bender, Birakis Michail
AUSTRALIA: Victoria Brown, Gemma Beadswork, Sophie Smith, Zoe A., Jane Moran, Bronwen Knox, Rowena Webster, Kate Gynther (captain), Glencora Rippon, Ashleigh Southem, Melissa Rippon, Nicola Zapame, Alicia Mclormack. Head coach: Greg Mcfadden.
CANADA: Serena Bredin, Kelly MeKee Blair, Katrina Monton, Alexia Tielmann, Stephanie Valin, Sophie Baron, Joelle Bekhazi (captain), Rebekka Stennkamer, Joannie Morisseau, Monika Eggens, Carmen Eggens, Dominique Perreault, Emma Wright. Head coach: Justin Oliveira.

Canada sent a young team to attend the Super Final and suffered many blocks from the experienced Australians. In the last quarter, Australia's team captain Kate Gynther led Gemma Sophie, Rowena Webster and Nicola Zapame to score one goal each while Rowena Webster gave her team the last shot 27 seconds before the end. Monika Eggens scored twice for Canada in the first and third quarter while teammate Sophie Baron added one in the first quarter.

AUS vs CAN - credit: Han Yuqing
AUS vs CAN - credit: Han Yuqing