Ludwigsburg, Germany, June 15, 2018 - With three similar sets Russia came through their first test of the weekend unscathed, driven on by captain Kobzar to a straight sets win 3-0 (25-20, 25-20, 26-24). In a change for Russia the point scoring was shared around the team with no player vastly outperforming any other.
Russia now have nine wins and are up to 4th position but Coach Sergei Shliapnikov will know there is still work to be done if they want to be in the Final 6 in Lille next month. One area he will look want to improve is the ace count as they trailed 0-2 to the team from South America in this area.
Each weekend so far in the 2018 VNL Russia have lost one match and won two, but for the first time they have now won three in a row. Dmitriy Muserskiy will not be used to the other middle in his team out performing him but that is what happened today as Ilia Vlasov finished joint top of the charts with 13 points – along with Dmitry Volkov.
Argentina will be pleased with spells of the match, but ultimately they were up against it today. Martin Ramos top scored with 14 points (12 in attack and those two aces), followed by Cristian Poglajen with 13.
Prior to the match things already looked ominous for Argentina as they trailed in the head to head 3-13 but two of their victories had come recently back in 2016.
However the most recent encounter went to Russia in straight sets at last year's World League in a similar match that we were treated to tonight. Tomorrow the MHP Arena plays host to Germany vs Argentina followed by Russia against Japan as the race for a place in the top six goes on.
It was a close start with both teams side out game dominating. But a few points in Russia seemed to find their stride, highlighted by an excellent one on one block by Egor Kliuka. It was 8-4 at the first technical and those four points continued through to 11-7 when the competitions most efficient spiker, Dmitriy Muserskiy, took his first attack kill, from a spike height of 3.29m.
Excellent defence by Argentina, led by their Libero combination of Santiago Danani and Franco Massimino, managed to bring them back to within one point. In an entertaining point, Dmitriy Muserskiy then took matters into his own hands by spiking a second ball from a standing start after the free ball had gone to his setter Igor Kobzar. In the end Russia rode out the set, taking it to 20 points
Dmitry Volkov was back in the team and back in the points with Russia more in control of the second set establishing a lead of five at 14-9. At 17-14 there was a mega rally with a difference, Egor Kliuka setting the ball to his counterpart Volkov to kill, whilst sat on the floor at position one – something you won’t see again!
If that was good, then the set point was incredible. After a long exchange Volkov defended with his shoulder from back beyond the base line, his team chased it down and it eventually finished with Kliuka killing an overpass making it 25-20 – again.
Setter Maximiliano Cavanna was orchestrating things as best he could for Argentina, but Russia’s block was causing his attackers problems throughout. With what seemed to be another similar set Russia seemed to have the answers to any questions Julio Velasco and his team posed, they led 16-10 at the first technical and were cruising.
Looking back they may think they relaxed a little too much, as through Martin Ramos Argentina came back into it as they reached the twenties. With Sebastian Solé serving at 21-24, first Volkov missed the court then Muserskiy did the same and we were all square. Showing great character Russia got another chance at 25-24, Volkov demanded the ball and this time made sure.