Muserskiy: The artist

The story of a Ukrainian boy who became a Russian volleyball star

He says volleyball is an art. And when he is on the court, he demonstrates the truth of that statement. A true volleyball virtuoso, 2.18m-tall Dmitriy Muserskiy is a joy to watch.

The London 2012 Olympic final was arguably the best example of Muserskiy’s artwork, set to remain in the glorious history of volleyball for years to come. Russia were two sets down against Brazil when coach Vladimir Alekno made an unthinkable move. He switched Muserskiy from the middle to the opposite position in the third set and the payoff was incredible. As Russia completed a spectacular turnaround to a 3-2 (19-25, 20-25, 29-27, 25-22, 15-9) victory to claim Olympic gold, Muserskiy contributed a fantastic match high of 31 points, an Olympic final record.

Dmitriy Muserskiy in action during the London 2012 final

“I honestly did not remember many things from that match until I watched it two years later. I remember my thoughts in the third set: ‘Finally, I have a good chance to get more sets and now I can spike more!’ and ‘They can win, but we cannot just allow them to take the victory, so let’s fight!’

"I also remember my feelings when I received the medal. It was like ‘I am an Olympic champion! But why don’t I feel anything special?’ The answer to that question came the next morning. When I woke up, I remembered everything that had happened, and tears fell from my eyes. I had left it all on the court and had been so emotionally empty,” the 32-year-old Russian star told Volleyball World.

The 2012 Olympic title was only one of the highlights of Muserskiy’s glorious decade in volleyball. As a member of the Russian national team, he also won the 2011 FIVB Volleyball World Cup, the 2018 FIVB Volleyball Nations League, the 2011 and 2013 editions of the FIVB Volleyball World League and the 2013 CEV European Championship. His numerous individual awards include MVP of the 2013 FIVB Volleyball World Grand Champions Cup and MVP of EuroVolley 2013.

“In the last 10 years, I have won everything I wanted and more. I am proud of these achievements and proud to be able to contribute to a lot of wins for the team. I am also proud of the MVP awards and all the other individual awards in international competitions,” he said.

But the Russian does not do it for the awards.

“I don’t play for the medals or the honours. I play to live,” Muserskiy said. “The medals and the honours are just a bonus of the job, nothing else. I have no goals for what to play. I have my goals for how to play.”

Muserskiy cherishes fond memories of how it all started for him back in his native Ukraine when he was just eight years old.

“Picture this. I was a fifth-grader when the PE teacher came into our math class and invited all the boys to volleyball practice the next morning. As a diligent student I went, but there were just three of us. Our teacher had worked at the school for a very long time and had also been my parents’ teacher. He knew that my father was a very good swimmer and my mother played volleyball professionally. So it was he who brought me to volleyball, although as the coach of the basketball team he also asked me many times to switch from volleyball to basketball.”

“After my classes, I would play street volleyball for many hours near the school. I kept getting better and better. I was in eighth grade when I played for my city Makeyevka’s junior team. Then in 10th grade I got an invitation to play for the junior team of Kharkov. At the time, the city was the capital of Ukrainian volleyball. I had three days to decide what I really wanted to do – go to a university and then work at a plant with my father, or play volleyball and perhaps become a good player. Of course, I chose volleyball and went to Kharkov.”

That move was the beginning of Dmitriy’s successful club career, which eventually led him to his first professional team, Russian powerhouse Belogorie Belgorod, where he also gained Russian citizenship in 2006.

“I watched a live match between Dinamo Moscow and Ukraine’s Lokomotiv Kharkiv,” he continued. “Dinamo defeated my home team easily, but that got me excited and from then on I dreamt of just one thing – to play in Russia. My dream came true half a year later, when I signed a contract with Belgorod.”

Muserskiy played for the Russian outfit from 2006 through 2018. In 2014, they won a historic gold at the FIVB Volleyball Men's Club World Championship in Brazil, and he was named MVP of the tournament, an achievement that followed a victory in the 2014 CEV Champions League. He and his teammates also claimed the second-tier continental club trophy, the CEV Cup, in 2009 and 2018.

Since 2018, Dmitriy Muserskiy has played for Suntory Sunbirds Osaka. His transfer to the Japanese league helped him fulfil another dream.

“I had doubts about coming to Japan, but it was my dream. And I am a person who follows his dreams. I have found something special here after searching for many years – freedom; freedom to play and be happy on the court,” said Muserskiy. “Volleyball is not a battle, it is an art. And this is what I have discovered.”

Read more: Roster 100 to showcase stars of volleyball and beach volleyball

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