(Universiade) S. Korea settles for silver in women's handball
By Yoo Jee-ho
NAJU, South Korea, July 13 (Yonhap) -- South Korea lost to Russia 38-36 to settle for silver medal in women's handball at the Universiade on Monday.
South Korea had no answer against bigger and stronger Russian opponents early on, and its ferocious second-half comeback fell short at Naju Indoor Gymnasium in Naju, South Jeolla Province, southwest of the main host city Gwangju.
Handball made its Universiade debut here and South Korea failed to pick up gold at home. Earlier Monday on the same court, the men's team fell to Switzerland 38-36 after extra time and a penalty shootout in the bronze medal match.
In the women's final, the teams started out evenly, before Russia made some strong defensive stops and goalkeeper Daria Vakhterova made key saves. It was 5-5 about seven minutes in, and Russia netted four straight goals in a two-minute stretch. Anna Vyakhireva and Veronika Garanina paced the Russian attack, and it was 14-9 Russia with 10 minutes left in the opening half.
South Korea never got to within four the rest of the half, and Russia kept scoring quick goals and stifling South Korea on the other end. Garanina scored four goals in the last eight minutes of the half, putting Russia up 22-15 after the first half-hour.
It was much the same story in the second half, with the Russians continuing to throw their bodies into the lanes and barely giving their frustrated opponents any space. After five minutes, Russia led 27-17.
South Korea's Kang Eun-hye (second from L) tries to take a shot against Russia in the women's handball final at the Summer Universiade in Naju, South Korea, on July 13, 2015. (Yonhap)
To make matters worse, South Korea's top gun Ryu Eun-hee was stretchered off the court six minutes into the second half after a hard collision with an opponent. Ryu was leading the team with five goals at the moment and she didn't return to the match.
Vakhterova stood tall in the Russian net, making one stop after another as her teammates on offense built a 30-18 lead.
The South Koreans began playing with more urgency and trailed 34-28 with about 12 minutes remaining. After a pair of defensive stops, Choi Su-min scored two straight goals to make it 35-30 Russia with 8:30 to go.
With Russia unable to find the same offensive oomph, South Korea was within striking distance, down 36-34 with 2:30 left. Jung Yu-ra had an open look at the net, but Vakhterova came through with a clutch save. Then Polina Vedekhina scored on the other end to put Russia up 37-34 with a minute and a half remaining.
South Korea responded with a goal, but Anastasiia Kudriashova had the final Russian goal to seal the victory.
South Korea played the final eight minutes without Kim On-a, who limped off the court with an apparent leg injury. She still finished with the team-high eight goals. Vyakhireva for Russia led all players with 12 goals.
Vakhterova stopped 12 of 43 shots she faced. Ju Hui and Park Sae-young in the South Korean net made only four stops on 42 Russian shots.