Russia have won three World Grand Prix titles
but it has been a dozen years since they topped the podium and their last medal
in the competition was the silver they took in 2009. They came seventh last
year and will be looking to make amends for that disappointing showing by
registering a fourth victory before targeting a third successive World Championship
title later in the year.
The Russians, taking into account their
years competing under the banner of the Soviet Union, are the most successful
nation in the history of women’s volleyball. They claimed Olympic gold medals
at Mexico City 1968, Munich 1972, Moscow 1980 and Seoul 1988.
They have also
won the World Championship seven times, and the European Championship on 18
occasions along with triumphs in 1973 World Cup and 1997 Grand Champions Cup.
Key players in their World Grand Prix campaign will include Nataliya Obmochaeva
and Maria Borodakova, the latter of whom won the World Club Championship in May
with Russian side Dinamo Kazan.