Stanislav Shevchenko, the president of the Russian Volleyball Federation, stated in the interview for Sport Express that he strongly disagrees with the opinion of Vladimir Alekno, who said that Russian volleyball stopped developing after the London Olympics 2012.
“I strongly disagree with Alekno. Let us all go back a few years to refresh our memories. After we won the gold at London Olympics, we then claimed the 1st place in the World League 2013 by beating powerful Brazilin the finals. Then, during the same year, we have won the gold medal at the European Championship for the first time since 1991! Do you know why all of that happened? asked Shevchenko and then gave the answer.
“Because we had a team whose game style was very different from the traditional. Everyone were used to watch Russia with strong and powerful players. But this team was different. At the reception we had Spiridonov, Sivizhelez and Verbov. At the opposite position there was Pavlov. Middle blockers – Muserskiy and Aschev, while the setter was Grankin. No one was physically superior to us, yet our strongest weapon was defense. Thanks to excellent defense we had a lot of counter attacks and that style shocked our rivals. Many volleyball experts from other countries admitted that they did not know how to deal with this Russian team.”
But, what than happened to the Russian men’s national team? Shevchenko has an explanation.
“The two starting receivers Spiridonov and Sivizhelez were not playing much in their club. They were crossed out. Then, Pavlov got injured. The whole picture suddenly changed. We tried to use World League 2015 to rest some key players such are Verbov, Grankin and Mikhailov, however the young players did not use their chance. Then Alekno took over the team and we started playing a lot better.”
The president of the Russian Volleyball Federation then continued:
“We won the 1st place at the European Olympic Qualifier, which was perhaps even a stronger tournament than the Olympics. Still, in the meantime Maxim Mikhailov got injured. He gave his best in Rio, but it was obvious that he was in pain. It was like we were playing without opposite. Of course, I do not want to blame Max. He is a fighter and he did everything he could. I think that the coach should have given more chance to Konstantin Bakun. Just imagine that Brazil were playing without Wallace, or Italy without Zaytsev…”
Read the full interview at Sport Express webpage.
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