The first set in the big match of the 15th leg of the men’s Superliga in Russia lasted an epic 84 rallies. After winning it by 43-41, defending champions Lokomotiv Novosibirsk went on to claim a four-set away victory over 2020 runners-up and current table leaders Zenit Kazan.
Loko’s Sergey Savin was the best scorer of the match. He contributed 24 points, including three blocks, towards the 3-1 (43-41, 18-25, 25-20, 25-23) win at Kazan. Star opposite Maxim Mikhaylov was Zenit’s most prolific player on a total of 19 points, including three blocks and an ace.
The match put a stop to Zenit’s 18-match winning streak in the rivalry between the two clubs. The last time Lokomotiv had defeated the Tatari giants was in November 2014.
In another 15th-leg game on Tuesday, Zenit Saint Petersburg’s striker Victor Poletaev fired seven aces in three sets to help his team claim their 10th win of the season. The 25-year-old Russian national team opposite tallied the match high of 18 points towards Zenit Saint Petersburg’s 3-0 (25-19, 25-17, 25-22) home victory over ASK Nizhny Novgorod.
Poletaev’s teammate at Zenit and in the national team, 2.07m-tall middle Ivan Iakovlev, also reached double digits, hitting eight points in attack at a 62% success rate and three kill blocks.
ASK did better in their early 16th-leg match, pushing hosts Fakel Novy Urengoy to a tie-breaker, while two ‘Dimas’ engaged in a fierce scoring race to share the top scorer honours on 27 points apiece. Fakel claimed a 3-2 (25-17, 22-25, 25-17, 21-25, 15-13) victory over their visitors from Nizhny Novgorod as Russian international Dmitry Volkov tallied 23 spikes at a 61% success rate, two aces and two blocks, while Ukrainian standout Dmytro Viietskyi delivered 26 spikes and an ace.
Fakel followed that up with another five-set win on Monday, this time at Dinamo-LO Leningrad Oblast by 3-2 (25-21, 23-25, 21-25, 25-19, 15-7), with Volkov delivering almost the same scoring record – 22 spikes, two aces, two blocks.
With Superliga regular season action set to resume on January 4, Zenit Kazan will see the 2020 calendar year off as table leaders with 12 wins in 15 matches. Fakel are next in the standings on a 10-5 win-loss record, followed by Dinamo Moscow (10-1), Zenit Saint Petersburg (10-4), Kuzbass Kemerovo (10-3), Lokomotiv (8-4), etc.
Main photo: Roman Kruchinin, zenit-kazan.com
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