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Russia call up six Olympic champs for 2018

Dmitriy Muserskiy last played for Russia in the 2016 World League
Lausanne, Switzerland, April 24, 2018 – Six gold medallists from the London 2012 Olympic Games, including Dmitriy Muserskiy, are among the 30 players on the extended roster of the Russian men’s national team for the upcoming 2018 season. Coach Sergey Shlyapnikov gathers the squad on May 3 to start preparations ahead of the FIVB Volleyball Nations League’s first edition and the FIVB Volleyball Men's World Championship in Italy and Bulgaria.

2.18m-tall Muserskiy, one of the world’s tallest athletes and one of volleyball’s best blockers, who last appeared on the national team in the 2016 FIVB Volleyball World League, was included in the list, along with five other Olympic champs - Alexander Butko, Alexander Sokolov, Maxim Mikhaylov, Sergey Grankin and Yury Berezhko.

Russia’s latest big international success was the 2017 European Championship title in September. 11 of the 14 players who earned the continental gold in Poland found their way into Shlyapnikov’s 2018 list.

To add some youthful talent to these experienced stars, the Russian coach has listed the names of seven volleyballers who have never played for the men’s national team in official matches before. A total of 11 Russian Superliga clubs are represented by their players on the roster.

“The list represents an organic mixture of highly experienced and decorated players, ambitious youngsters, who have already managed to prove themselves, and rookies, who have yet to make their official debut with the national team,” commented Alexander Yaremenko, general secretary of the Russian volleyball federation. “By May 3 the club season will have just ended, or maybe even not, if the final series extends to a fifth match, so some of the players will not be called to the first camp, getting a chance to rest and recover.”

The Russians are to start their VNL campaign on May 25 with a game against Canada in Poland. They travel to Bulgaria for the second weekend of the inaugural competition and entertain Brazil, China and Iran at home in Ufa for the third. Next, they visit Germany and Italy, hoping to find their way to the finals in Lille, France in early July. For the first stage of the World Championship in September, Sergey Shlyapnikov’s squad is set to take on Australia, Cameroon, Serbia, Tunisia and USA in Pool C to be played in Bari, Italy.

“At any tournament our goals are set at the maximum,” said Shlyapnikov in an earlier interview for Izvestia. “That is why we need to be smart in planning everything out, in a way to give the young players a chance to prove themselves, and to keep the experienced ones in shape. The upcoming season will be rich in events. The Volleyball Nations League is a new format with more matches to play. We have already been invited to the Wagner Memorial in Poland again. And, of course, there is the World Championship. Most likely, we will start by trying out various team compositions, but by the time of our VNL home tournament in Ufa we must have found the optimal line-up.”

Russia’s extended roster for the 2018 season:

Setters: Alexander Butko, Dmitry Kovalev, Igor Kobzar, Pavel Pankov, Sergey Grankin

Opposites: Konstantin Bakun, Maxim Mikhaylov, Pavel Kruglov, Romanas Shkulyavichus, Victor Poletaev

Outside hitters: Alexander Markin, Anton Karpukhov, Dmitry Volkov, Egor Feoktistov, Egor Kliuka, Sergey Savin, Yaroslav Podlesnykh, Yury Berezhko

Middle blockers: Aleksei Safonov, Artem Volvich, Dmitriy Muserskiy, Dmitry Shcherbinin, Igor Filippov, Ilia Vlasov, Ilyas Kurkaev, Inal Tavasiev

Liberos: Aleksei Kabeshov, Alexander Sokolov, Artem Zelenkov, Roman Martynyuk

By April 27 each of the participating federations will officially submit their list of 26 players for the men’s Volleyball Nations League.

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