Short characterisation RUS
STARTING PLAYERS AND SUBSTITUTES
After the Olympic Games 2004, Zoran Gajic, former coach of Serbia and Montenegro, took over the Russian national team, and with six younger players (average age: 26.5 years), he formed a new team for the 2006 WCh. Poltavsky (born in 1981) as captain and Grankine (born in 1985) as setter were given much responsibility. With player 16 Verbov (3 times best libero, receiver and digger) as well as player 18 Kuleshov (best blocker) and player 9 Poltavsky, the team has outstanding individual specialists. After a 0-3 defeat against SCG in the opening match and the 2-3 defeat against Poland (after having been ahead by 2-0), they were finally far behind and placed 7th in front of Japan.
By a variable mixture of jump serves (powerful and with spin), the team put their opponents under much pressure, as they used to, with Poltavsky (best server: place 3) being their most efficient server.
Reception player 5 Abramov (68% efficiency) and player 10 Kosarev (64% efficiency) left an excellent impression by the side of libero player 16 Verbov (best receiver). RUS was the best receiving team of the tournament. From a well-formed 3-player formation, regardless of the kind of serve, the technically brilliant Verbov was always convincing.
The young and inexperienced setter player 6 Grankine was given confidence by the coach. His quick combination sets to position 4, the small portion of sets to back court position 6 and the medium-high sets for Poltavsky (opposite player) were played precisely, however, not always distributed cleverly. He liked to intervene into first attack after successful passing.
Their attacking play from reception relies on the above-average athletic abilities of the outside attackers and of the opposite attacker, as well as on the physical advantages of players 18 Kuleshov (206 cm) and 7 Kazakov (217 cm) in the first tempo at the middle of the net. A speedy attacking play via position 4 is mainly realized by the outside attackers who do not pass. Back court attack via position 6 has been neglected in the concept of play and was rarely part of attack as a whole.
At any block position, the team formed a technically perfect block, and they had the most successful blocking team and the best blocker (player 18 Kuleshov). Particularly in group block situations, they profit from their body height (average: 202 cm). In defence, the outstanding player 16 Verbov (best digger) reacted with quick defensive actions. In attacking transition, the team preferred outside attack and/or profited from the strengths of Poltavsky via back court position 1.