Lokomotiv Kaliningrad hammered out an amazing comeback from two sets down against Dinamo Moscow in the final of the women’s Superliga in Russia to claim the first national title in the club’s short history. Founded just three years ago, in April 2018, Lokomotiv had silver medals from their first two seasons in the Superliga before snatching the 2021 gold. Last year’s champions Dinamo-Ak Bars Kazan had to settle for the bronze.
German international Louisa Lippmann produced the match high of 25 points, including the winner, in Lokomotiv’s 3-2 (21-25, 19-25, 25-23, 25-19, 15-12) victory over Dinamo Moscow in Saturday’s final in Kazan. The opposite impressed with five kill blocks. Her teammate Valeriya Zaytseva, who was on the Russian national team roster for the last edition of the FIVB Volleyball Nations League, did even better on the block, with seven stuffs to her name.
With Dutch international setter Laura Dijkema delivering variety in Lokomotiv’s offence, three other Russian national team strikers reached the double digits in the scorers’ chart of the match. Tatiana Ezhak, until recently known by her maiden name Iurinskaia, scored 18 times, Irina Voronkova put away 16 points, while middle blocker Ekaterina Evdokimova finished with 13. Lokomotiv’s libero Alla Galkina, bronze medallist of the 2019 FIVB Volleyball World Cup with Russia, also chipped in towards the victory with 60% good reception, in addition to her excellent performance in defence.
On Dinamo Moscow’s side, middle blocker Ekaterina Enina was on fire with seven stuffs and two aces towards a total of 23 points. After missing out on the medals in 2020 for the first time since 2003, the team from the Russian capital are back on the podium with silver.
Earlier on Saturday, regular season winners and Final Six hosts Dinamo-Ak Bars Kazan managed a 3-1 (25-20, 25-21, 23-25, 27-25) win in the bronze medal match against the most decorated club in the history of the Russian championships and last year’s bronze medallists Uralochka-NTMK Ekaterinburg. In Friday’s semifinals, Lokomotiv defeated Uralochka by 3-1 (24-26, 25-16, 25-20, 25-18), while Dinamo Moscow dethroned Dinamo Kazan with a 3-0 (25-23, 25-20, 25-16) shutout. The fifth place went to Belarus’s Minchanka Minsk, the only foreign team in the Superliga, after a 3-1 (23-25, 25-20, 25-21, 25-16) victory over Proton Saratov.
The Final Six MVP award went to Lokomotiv’s Irina Voronkova, who also scored the most aces, 45, throughout the season. Her teammates Alla Galkina and Valeriya Zaytseva were named Best Libero and Best Blocker, respectively. Dinamo Moscow’s Brazilian star Natalia Pereira and Russian national team playmaker Tatiana Romanova took the awards for Best Spiker and for Best Setter, while Dinamo Kazan’s 17-year-old rising star Arina Fedorovtseva was nominated Best Server.
Even with two games for the distribution of the places from 11th through 14th yet to be played on Sunday, Dinamo Moscow’s Nataliya Goncharova looks certain to be the best scorer of the season. She tallied a total of 548 points as well as the highest number of successful spikes, 482. Uralochka’s 22-year-old middle Elizaveta Kotova was the season’s most prolific blocker, statistically, with a total of 125 stuffs.
Main photo: Russia’s new champions Lokomotiv Kaliningrad step onto the podium (source: volley.ru)
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Lippmann delivers when it counts