Lausanne, Switzerland, May 2, 2014 - Russia will call on 10 of the victorious 2013 squad when it mounts its title defence at the 25th anniversary of the FIVB Volleyball World League, which starts on May 23.
This was confirmed when the gold medallists at the London Olympic announced their 22-man squad, which, like all the other 27 teams in the competition, they had to do by May 1.
Among those to miss out are Andrey Ashchev and Ilia Zhilin – two members of the team that secured a commanding 3-0 victory over world champions Brazil in last year’s final in Mar de Plata, Argentina. Another man omitted from coach Andrey Voronkov’s squad is Olympic champion Alexander Volkov. The captain of recently-crowned Russian champions Zenit Kazan will undergo an operation on his knee, making him unavailable for selection.
“First there will be a consultation, but our doctor has said that it well be necessary to do the operation. It’s not as complex as the last one, but I will have to do rehabilitation after that,” Volkov said.
The team will be led by Nikolay Pavlov, who was named MVP in the last FIVB World Volleyball League tournament, as well as the 2.18m giant Dmitriy Muserskiy.
Defending champions Russia will have 27 challengers this year. One of their fiercest rivals will once again be record World League winners and last year’s opponents in the final, Brazil.
The reigning world champions welcome back a global star, in the form of Murilo Endres – MVP at the 2010 FIVB World Championships. The powerful attacker missed the season for the national team whilst recovering from an injury to his shoulder.
“I have never spent so much time away. I have only had a few injuries in my career. I’m very motivated to help the team,” Murilo said.
In Wallace de Souza, Eder Carbonera, William Arjona and Isac Santos, the Brazilian squad features four players from Brazilian team Sada Cruzeiro, who won this year’s national championship and will be looking to defend its title in the FIVB Club World Championship, which takes place in Belo Horizonte from May 5 to 10.
The Poles, who host the FIVB Volleyball Men's World Championship from August 31 to September 21, feature a number of new faces but also some familiar names. The biggest change made by the 2012 FIVB World League winners is on the coaching staff: the man at the helm, having brought the curtain down on his playing career, is Frenchman Stephane Antiga. He is joined by a big-name player making his comeback in the national team: Mariusz Wlazly.
“Mariusz played unbelievably well in the play-offs in the Polish league. In this form, he can be a fantastic addition to the squad,” Antiga said.
Another country with a new coach is Iran, where Serb Slobodan Kovac has taken over from star coach Julio Velasco.
Serbia’s 22-man squad will once again be spearheaded by star Aleksandar Atanasijevic. USA’s hopes rest with Matthew Anderson, who plays his club volleyball with Russian champions Zenit Kazan. An old hand returns to the fold, in the form of William Priddy.
Bulgaria, who finished fourth in last year’s World League, will once again put their faith in the spiking skills of Tsvetan Skolov while Italy, last year's third-placed team, lines up with the top scorer in the preliminary round of last year’s World League on board: Ivan Zaytsev.
The unique competition, which features the world’s top volleyball teams and has been thrilling fans around the world since 1990, will be bigger than ever for its 25th anniversary. Rather than the previous record of 18 nations in 2013, 28 teams will line up in this year’s event.
The top eight teams will take their place in “Group 1”. Pool B starts on May 23 and sees defending champions Russia take on 2012 silver medallists USA, 2013 fourth-placed team Bulgaria and four-time runner’s up Serbia. Italy, Poland and Iran will all come up against record winners Brazil in pool A.
The top two teams in both these ‘super pools’ will qualify for the Finals from July 16 to 20 in Florence. They will be joined by the host nation Italy and the winner of the Finals contested between teams from Pools C, D and E in Sydney.
Click here for the Group 2 preview
Click here for the Group 3 preview
Click here for the team lists
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