In the first set Germany started well working together as a unit to block Russia’s powerful attacks. But Russia’s key man Maxim Mikhaylov was dominant as his tall side pulled ahead. The tallest man in the competition, 218 cm tall Dmitry Muserskiy, was a huge blocking presence at the net. Germany fought back through spikers Jochen Schöps and Marcus Böhme, and the sides couldn’t be separated as they fought their way to 29-29. After a real struggle, Russia got the points needed to win the opening set with the score of 31-29.
In the second set, Russia setter Alexander Butko fed his spikers accurately with Mikhaylov being the man ending most of his moves, and Alexander Volkov also scoring heavily. Germany’s setter Lukas Kampa kept his team moving and Schöps continued to impress, but the Russians never looked under pressure as they cruised to a 25-18 set win.
The third set was close early on, with the teams trading points from their key spikers. György Grozer was influential for Germany, but Russia’s power once again was too much as the match progressed. The heirs of the Soviet school eventually claimed the final set with the score of 25-17 as Mikhaylov dominated the court – he ended up by registering 21 points – and his fitness will be crucial to Russia‘s bid to take the gold medal.
World No.2 Russia meet world No.1 Brazil in their second preliminary match on Tuesday, July 31, while Germany face Beijing 2008 Olympic Games winners USA on that same day.