Being in the top four is already a success - Shliapnikov


Lille, France, July 6, 2018 - Russia dealt with USA's subs in straight sets on Friday to finish top of Pool B at the 2018 FIVB Volleyball Nations League finals, but neither coach minded, as they've no preference on who to meet from the other pool in Saturday's semifinals.

Sergei Shliapnikov (Russia head coach): "The most important for us is to have qualified for the semifinals because it means we're part of the four best teams in the world, which is already a success. Obviously we'll give our maximum to try and go as far as we can from here on."

Maxim Mikhailov (Russia opposite): "We feel good because we won two games. It's very important, but even more important will be tomorrow. It doesn't matter who we will face; it will be a big game. I love volleyball and Russia; it's always been an honor to wear the jersey of the national team."

Egor Kliuka (Russia outside hitter): "It's great that we won but the semifinals are going to be different because you know that it's win or go home."

John Speraw (USA head coach): "I think the VNL requires that you play your entire team, so I felt really comfortable putting our guys out there. We have a schedule in The Finals where we have to play four matches in a row; so if you're fortunate enough to move on to the semis before you play your second match, then you have to make sure that you're managing rest and recovery for your players. So it wasn't a hard decision to put the guys that didn't play for the first match on the court tonight. And the other reason is that I don't have a feel for whom I'd rather play in the semis! Everybody's good here, so it's more about us being rested and sharp, and that was the best way to do that. Besides, we've got two guys on the court that haven't even graduated from university yet and I loved seeing them play against Russia. It's also good that Aaron Russell got to play. I mean, obviously he was a starter for us, and if Taylor [Sander] can't come back, we're gonna have to go to him. As for our opponent tomorrow, I think all three of those teams [Serbia, Brazil, and France] play high quality IQ touch game. They have lots of shots and range and play a really good control game. So in a way, they're very similar to one another, and different from Russia for instance. Russians are more about size and physicality. So I don't have a preference, but it would be fun to play France in France at some point in this tournament, in front of a big crowd in a big arena!"

Torey Defalco (USA outside hitter): "Everyone's bigger, everyone's stronger, everyone's smarter [than in NCAA], and also with all the lights and crowd, it's not easy, but past a few points, all of that's gone. College is very schematic and strategic whereas here it's just go up and hit as hard as you can."

Kyle Ensing (USA opposite): "I think we're a deep squad. We've been attacking really well, touching a lot of balls at the block but they came up on top."


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