FIVB VolleyWorld 8/2013 - English - page 6

Nearly 12 months on from Russia’s remarkable fightback to win the
London 2012 Olympic Final, Andrey Voronkov’s team repeated their
victory over Brazil to add a third World League title to their 2002 and
2011 success. While in London they had to fight back from a near-
impossible 2-0 deficit and match points against them, in Mar del
Plata they showed the confidence of champions to race away to a
3-0 victory (25-23, 25-19, 25-19) in the 100
th
and final match of the
24
th
World League season.
Although nine-time winners Brazil remain top of the world rankings
the result left little doubt that Russia are currently the best team in
the world, something the Brazil coach Bernardo Rezende was happy
to concede.
“Russia is a ‘player factory’,” he said in the aftermath of the final.
“We have good players but they are better. Alongside that, we lost
important players for this World League, and I think the Russians are
the best in the world at the moment.”
Considering Russia have won the last three meetings between the
two heavyweights of the sport, it is a fair assessment to make. In fact
their last two victories were within 100 hours of each other at the
Islas Malvinas Competition Hall; first Russia clinched a narrow 3-2
win in their group match and then came the final.
“I can’t explain this feeling,” a jubilant Alexey Spiridonov said. “It is a
win not only for my team, but also for my country. I never imagined
that we would win 3-0 against Brazil and that the match wouldn’t be
difficult. Every point was made of gold.”
Russia’s World League success is particularly remarkable given that
they have a new coach in Voronkov and a much changed line-up
from the team that triumphed in London. Nikolay Apalikov, Sergey
Grankin, Dmitry Muserskiy and Maxim Mikhaylov were the only four
members of the winning team from the Olympic final to feature in
Argentina.
Nikolay Pavlov, someone relatively small in stature, was the player
who stole the show in Mar del Plata, just as Muserskiy and Mikhaylov
had done in London. The attacker was the top scorer in the final
stages of the tournament with 87 points and scored 22 points in the
final alone. As such it came as little surprise when he won the ‘Most
Valuable Player’ award.
Russia’s problems at the setter position now appear to be long behind
them; Grankin was a superb performer, combining with Pavlov to
become the best attacking duo in the tournament. However, there
are still times when Russia can be their own worst enemy by lacking
in concentration during a match. Losses to bottom of the table Cuba
COVER STORY
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