Cordoba, Argentina, July 24, 2010 - Russia guaranteed themselves a fifth medal in five World League editions after winning the first 2010 World League semifinal by defeating Serbia 3-0 (26-24, 25-15, 25-20) on Saturday at the impressive Orfeo Superdomo.
Tournament top scorer Maxim Mikhaylov topped the scores with 21 points for Russia while Sasa Starovic, second-equal best in the tournament, was the best scorer for Serbia with eight points.
As you would expect in a semifinal, neither side could be separated in the early exchanges with Starovic‘s every move being counted by Makhaylov. There was some quite brilliant Volleyball at times, rallies giving the supportive crowd plenty to cheer for and didn’t they appreciate it. Twenty-two-year-old wonder kid Dmitriy Muserskiy and Mikhaylov gave Russia a slight lead at 17-15 but Serbia wouldn’t let go. Starovic tied the set at 22-22 but an Alexander Volkov block sealed the first set for last year’s bronze medallist.
The first set was just the impetus which Russia needed. The world No. 3 raced out to a 3-0 lead, prompting Serbia coach Igor Kolakovic to a timeout, however it didn’t change too much. Volkov and Muserskiy providing ideal support to the flying Mikhaylov as Russia stretched their lead to 15-8. The difference in the end proved to be the block. Russia’s 13-2 advantage was too much to overcome and with the writing on the wall, Kolakovic ran his bench looking ahead to the next set.
Serbia captain Bojan Janic did his best to keep the spirit of his team up but by this stage nothing seemed to fall right for last year’s silver medalists. Mikhaylov continued his own blocking show and lost some admirable support from Taras Khtey when he had to leave the court with an injured ankle with Russia leading 10-8, but Khtey’s replacement stepped up and closed out the set with another text book block to put Russia into their sixth World League final . For Serbia, a World League title continues to be elusive but with such a young squad, the future is extremely bright for the world No. 4, especially looking at their recent World League record which includes two silver medals in the past two years.