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Spain battle back to beat Russia

Spain celebrate their unexpected victory over a Russia side ranked second in the world.

Catania, Italy, October 1, 2010 – Spain came from behind to beat Russia in five sets (17-25, 22-25, 25-21, 25-20, 15-13) in Pool I of the FIVB 2010 Men's World Championship. Despite the victory, the Spanish still need to win against Egypt on Saturday to secure progress in the competition, with the Russians having already claimed their ticket to the third phase with a 3-0 win over Egypt.

Iban Perez was Spain's top scorer with a tournament-high 30 points while three other team-mates finished in double figures with Julian Garcia-Torres compiling 12 and Sergio Noda and Jorge Fernandez 10 apiece. Alexander Volkov, who played the entire match, led Russia's scoring with 17 points and Maxim Mikhaylov, who played only the first two sets, added 16. Semen Poltavskiy came off the bench to amass 13 in the final three sets. The defeated Russians had the advantage in blocking (15-4) and out-served the winners 10-5.

The strong serves of Dmitriy Muserskiy and Mikhaylov helped Russia take a comfortable 8-3 lead in the first set, with the latter accounting for three of the first eight Russian points. As soon as the rotation put Spain's Garcia-Torres in the right position, he made an excellent diagonal strike. But Volkov's attack then stretched the lead to 11-5, forcing a timeout.

With Spain making too many errors, coach Julio Velasco substituted Jordi Gens for Guillermo Hernan. A quick attack by Muserskiy took Russia to the 20-point mark, however, and at 22-15 down, the Spanish called for another time-out. Muserskiy, who scored seven points in the opening frame, and Mikhaylov combined for an ace and spike to close the set 25-17. Spaniard Manuel Sevillano finished with seven tallies.

After an evenly contested opening to the second set, Russia took two consecutive points to lead 8-6 at the pause behind a rocket from Mikhaylov and a block by Volkov. They then made it 11-7 via a block and ace from Muserskiy and Taras Khtey. Yet Spain fought back with Perez, notably, making a diagonal strike. The Spanish moved ahead for the first time thanks to Garcia-Torres's blocking and led 16-15 at the second stop. Russia reclaimed the lead at 18-17 with a service ace by Evgeny Sivozhelez. Despite Spain's best efforts, particularly on the block with Perez, a mistake by the same player on the serve allowed Russia to finish off the set through Mikhaylov and Muserskiy.

Perez's offensive exploits helped Spain into an 8-5 lead in the third set as Russia gave a chance to several bench players, save for setter Sergey Grankin and middle blocker Volkov. Spain setter Hernan served two pipes to Noda, putting Russia in difficulty. But Daniele Bagnoli's men restored parity at 10-10 with two aces by Volkov and reached the Second Technical Timeout (STT) with a 16-13 advantage on the back of an attack and ace from Poltavskiy and Sivozhelez. Perez replied with an ace and spike from the second line and the Spaniards' serving was now noticeably stronger. When Poltavski's diagonal spike went wide, Spain led 20-19 and a parallel attack from Perez increased the lead to 22-20 before they finished off the third set with a block by Garcia-Torres and a lob by Francisco Jose Rodriguez.

Russia began with fourth set with the same line-up of mostly replacement players but Volkov provided the power for a 6-3 lead that prompted an opposition timeout. Russia led 8-6 at the First Technical Timeout (FTT) but Spain hit back with a cannon-shot by Rodriguez and went in front at 12-11. Spain were now defending impressively and showing great coherence in attack, even from the second line, and by the second pause they were three points ahead. They increased their lead to five points before Bagnoli called for a timeout and completed the set at 25-20 with an invasion called against Russia.

Spain went 3-0 up in the tie-breaker with a Noda spike and they were 7-3 in front before Russia came back behind the serves of Poltavskiy, narrowing the deficit to 8-6 when the teams changed courts. With Yury Berezhko entering the court, Russia drew level at 8-8 and though Spain stepped up their attack, Perez made a serving error at 12-11. At 13-13, Spain pushed for victory as Perez rocketed a missile before Noda finished off the scoring with a bullet of his own.


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FIVB Press Department Director - Richard Baker
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Email: press@fivb.org

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