First up, Semi final number 1. – Lochhead-Pitman NZL  Vs Barsouk-Kolodinsky RUS .
Unfortunately for our guys, despite pulling out the Haka after warm up, this was a fairly one sided match. The Russians have been on a roll all tournament and just bombed jump serves and side out like they were playing indoor. They just blast away high and hard. The Kiwis stayed with them in the first set up until about 9 – 9, then made a few side out errors, and were suddenly down 14 – 11. They never looked like getting those points back and Russia rolled over them. The second set was more of the same but worse. Russia made some big blocks, hit some aces, and finished quite easily. 0-2 (17-21, 11-21) Russia.
Second Semi, Williams-Metzger USA  Vs Ricardo-Emanuel BRA .
Brazil got away to an early lead, but the USA guys steadied and then took control of the first set winning 21 – 15. I was surprised at how much they served Ricardo, but Willie made a couple of blocks, and Stein made some great digs. The second set was a lot tighter, but the USA came out on top. 2-0 (21-15, 22-20) USA
Game of the day for me was definitely the Bronze medal play off. Lochhead-Pitman NZL  Vs Ricardo-Emanuel BRA 
First set was difficult for the Kiwis. Everything went to Jason, and he seemed to struggle against Ricardo’s block. Ricardo got hands on his line shot, and Emanuel cleaned up, then Jason tried power and got roofed a few times. Brazil took the first set easily. And I was thinking that perhaps Jason just wasn’t up to competing with a blocker like Ricardo on the net. Was I wrong or what….
The second set starts with a serve to Jason. He rolls high line over Ricardo and lands the ball about 5 cm from the corner. A perfect shot, and Emanuel still got a hand to it, but not enough to control it.
Next serve, to Jason again, and he slices a beautiful cut shot, Emanuel was a step away from it this time and didn’t touch it. Jason was back on. Shot after shot, inch perfect, and by half way through the set, Emanuel was getting wrong footed, and was no where near him. It was beautiful to watch. Apart from the side out, Jason started making digs. He started to pick Emanuel’s seam hit, and time and time again got his body in the right spot popping the ball straight up, and now all his shots were working, line chip shots, angles, and the occasional power cross. At one stage I counted 5 consecutive digs from Jason off the Brazilian side out. And of course, Kirk was setting him nectar, and blocking beautifully. His block was in perfect position every time, giving Brazil two choices, “hit me or hit my defender”, and they opted for the latter most of the time.
The Kiwis took the second set comfortably, and started the third set strong. About half way through Brazil started to serve Kirk a bit more and got a couple of points. On top of this, the Kiwis started making a few service errors. It was tit for tat up until about 12 all, when Brazil made a block on Kirk and then made another point to server for the match 14 – 12. NZ sided out. 14 – 13. Then the kiwis served, Jason made another dig but couldn’t put the hit away, Emanuel dug his shot for Ricardo to hit on two, but over set and Jason had a joust with Ricardo… and won! Well, maybe the ball was a little on Jason’s side of the net, but his little knuckle pokie took them back to 14 all. A couple more side outs, (Kirk was hitting well) and then all of a sudden NZ made a point and were serving for the match 17 – 16. Brazil sided out efficiently. 17 – 17 Brazil serves, and Emanuel makes a dig, but doesn’t get a good set out of it. Jason makes the dig and the ball float up for Kirk to hit on two, Emanuel peels, and it looks like Kirk has the whole court to hit, but the timing was a bit wrong, he plays a short line shot, which hits the tape, and doesn’t clear the net.
18 – 17, end change, and the Brazilians serve Kirk. The pass is OK, the set is good, and Ricardo goes way big, and stuffs Kirk back onto his head for the match. I guess if you’re going to get stuffed on match point in a World Tour bronze medal match, then you want it to be Ricardo.
So all in all, an incredible game and a great tournament from the Kiwis.
And that brings us to the final. I’ll cut to the chase with this one. Barsouk-Kolodinsky RUS  Vs Williams-Metzger USA  2-0 (21-19, 21-15) Russia
The Russians were just too strong. Aces, blocks and a really tough side out game. I guess it was their tournament, because no one really challenged them. Stein and Willie played OK, but they were a level below the semi where they beat Brazil, but to be fair, I think they played as well as Russia allowed them to.