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Olympic champions set to test young Russian side

Russia coach Daniele Bagnoli has been forced to name a young squad due to injuries to a number of star players, however the Italian said he still has a lot of faith in his side
Ekaterinburg, Russia, June 2, 2010 – Russia are set to open their 2010 FIVB World League campaign with a tough match against reigning Olympic champions USA at the DIVS Arena in Ekaterinburg with a relatively new squad playing in front of home fans.

Among the most notable absences from the home side are longtime veterans Sergey Tetukhin who retired from the national team last year, and Alexey Verbov and Alexey Kuleshov who are both expected to join the team later this season. Additionally, Pavel Abramov travels with the team but will miss both games due to knee injury.

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Despite the squad being young, many are from Lokomotiv Belgorod, who proved to be the shock of the Russian Championships by surprisingly finishing in second place.

Russian team coach Daniele Bagnoli includes 23-year-old Dmitry Ilinykh, 21-year-old Dmitri Musersky and 21-year-old Denis Birukov, all from Belgorod, in his squad after their excellent performance in the Russian league play-off.
"I like that we have a number of young guys on the roster," Bagnoli said. "I feel good about the guys on the roster; we can put them in at any time."

The only serious concern expressed by the Italian coach is the fact the small gap between the end of the Russian league just a few weeks ago, and the start of 2010 FIVB World League.

"The team has only been together for a week, so our focus was on getting the maximum effect out of the short training period,” Bagnoli added. “We will need to work hard as our goal is to get to the final round in this year’s World League, while our main season objective is to finish in top four at the FIVB Men's World Championship [in Italy from September 25-October 10]."
The coach also explained that he is looking for his team to improve no matter who the opponent is and he will aim to give his young players as much time on the court as possible without sacrificing team's success.

USA and Russia last met in Belgrade, Serbia, during last year’s Final Round. On that occasion, Russia picked up a 3-0 victory.


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