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Russia and USA to fight for Pool C supremacy

The United States' Matt Anderson (1) and David Lee (4) go up to block against Russia's Taras Khtey during theirWorld League match on June 5 in Ekaterinburg, Russia
Wichita, Kansas, USA, July 6, 2010 – A surprise victory by Finland over Russia last Saturday has given the United States the opportunity to advance to the FIVB World League Final Round.

The United States, ranked No. 2 in the world, will play No. 3 Russia for the top spot in Pool C in Wichita at midnight GMT this Saturday and again at 11 pm on the same day at Charles Koch Arena on the campus of Wichita State University.

In order to advance to the Final Round, the U.S. must win both Intercontinental Round matches on July 9 and 10 by scores of 3-0 or 3-1. It will be a tall order for the United States, which lost its first two Intercontinental Round matches to Russia, 3-0 (25-15, 26-24, 25-25) and 3-1 (25-14, 25-22, 21-25, 25-21).

Moreover, the U.S. is coming off two tough matches against Egypt in which they needed five sets to defeat the African Zone champion in both matches.

“We need to focus on what we are doing on our side of the net if we hope to play better against Russia,” U.S. coach Alan Knipe said. “We have played some good sets, but we have yet to play an entire match with our best effort.”

After defeating Finland 3-0 (25-20, 25-19, 25-14) on July 2, Russia was expected to clinch Pool C with a victory on July 3. But it fell to a 3-1 (25-18, 18-25, 25-23, 25-19) loss, setting up the showdown in Wichita.

Russia is led by opposite Maxim Mikhaylov who has scored 145 points on 118 kills, 14 blocks and 13 aces. Dmitriy Muserskiy, a 7-foot middle blocker, has added 118 points on 69 kills, 34 blocks and 15 aces.

Muserskiy’s 34 blocks put him second among all blockers. Muserskiy and Mikhaylov are second and third respectively among all servers for their aces per set.

Russian setter Sergey Grankin is fifth among all setters with an average of 6.28 running sets per set.

David Lee leads the U.S. in scoring with 101 points on 55 kills, 38 blocks and eight aces. His 38 blocks put him third among all World League blockers. Sean Rooney is second in scoring with 97 points on 84 kills, 10 blocks and three aces.

USA has a record of 55-41 against Russia (formerly the Soviet Union) since 1981, but is 3-11 against it since 2000. One of the biggest U.S. victories came in the semifinal match of the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, where the United States won 3-2 (25-22, 25-21, 25-27, 22-25, 15-13). However in 2009, Russia knocked the U.S. out of the World League Final Round with a 3-0 victory.


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