Osaka, Japan, September 28, 2019 –Irina Voronkova has been one of Russia’s reliable scorers in the FIVB Volleyball Women’s World Cup. The 23-year-old outside hitter, has averaged in double-digits as one of coach Sergio Busato’s starters throughout various stops of the competition in Japan.
“I really like the atmosphere here in Japan, and I enjoy meeting the followers of volleyball,” Voronkova said about her second time playing in the host country. Her first time was in 2017, when she was rostered in for the FIVB Volleyball Grand Champions Cup.
True enough, Voronkova would often be one of the last players to leave the competition hall, as she would take time to mingle with the fans.
“When more people come and see the games, you can leave the court with a great feeling. As athletes, we need the love and support of the spectators. I owe it to them to come and greet them. My heart is so full when many people watch,” she said.
Irina Voronkova takes time out with her followers in Osaka's Edion Arena
Voronkova was raised in a volleyball environment. Her father Andrei used to coach the Russian men’s team. Her mother and sister also played at the club level. This could have given her pressure to perform but found a positive spin to it.
“When I was young and played in child leagues, this gave me more of a push. This is normal for me now. I don’t think about it so much. When you keep thinking about this, it can just hinder everything. What I do think about is that I need more training and learning because I wear the name Voronkova at the back of my jersey,” she said.
“My idol is Liubov Sokolova. Everytime she plays, she smiles. I was so happy when I was a child, I went to the same volleyball school where Sokolova played. After five years, she gave me a jersey. This was just super!”
A spitfire on court, Voronkova would always celebrate every point earned, every rally won at every single match.
With the competition winding down to the final stretch, Voronkova tried to reflect on how their World Cup journey has gone.
“We tried to play here step by step, we take one win here, and another there. We tried to do our best, but maybe we were a little bit tired, as with all teams. This is a little bit of a problem for us, to maintain our concentration all throughout all matches. We have to pay attention to every aspect of our game, in attacks, digs, service and block.”
Voronkova on attack
While a World Cup medal would be important and dear to her, Voronkova tries to focus more on the team’s ultimate goal.
“We train and play here from the heart, and with all heart. I think this is the first priority. At some point, hopefully we can take some medals. Sure, that would be the perfect situation . But we need to strengthen our team more, and so we can prepare well for the Olympic Games.”