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Kuzyutkin points to balance of youth and experience

Defending champions Russia begin the 2010 FIVB Women's World Championship as one of the favourites

Osaka, Japan, October 28, 2010 – There may have been changes made to Russia's squad to accommodate some younger players but with plenty of experience among the old guard of Maria Borodakova, Ekaterina Gamova, Liubov Sokolova and Yulia Merkulova, coach Vladimir Kuzyutkin is hopeful they have found the right balance.

"We have a strong mix of experienced and younger players," Kuzyutkin said of his squad's blend, 24 hours before the start of the 16th edition of the FIVB Women's World Championship. "You can lose or you can win but the most important thing is that you focus," Kuzyutkin added of the challenge ahead for the holders. "It is necessary to be absolutely ready in the decisive moments. We know about our strengths, but we are also conscious of the power of our opponents."

After victories over Serbia, Italy and Croatia at the Edison Challenge Cup in Italy, Russia go into the event feeling confident. "We come back to Japan with sweet memories (of their 2006 triumph) but it will be tough," said Sokolova. "Italy, China and Brazil will be our main competitors."

Russia will get the action under way in Osaka on Friday when they play the opening Pool D game against the Dominican Republic, starting at 1.30pm local time. They have never lost in five matches against their Central American opponents. Canada will then take on Korea seeking a first victory over their Asian rivals in 11 meetings, while China play Turkey looking to repeat the win they recorded at the 2003 World Cup in the countries' only previous encounter.

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