Curitiba, Brazil, July 6, 2017 – After a disappointing 2016, when Russia failed to make the podium of the Rio Olympics and the FIVB Volleyball World League, Russia have decided to focus on a rebuilding process ahead of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
In 2017, Russia is on the verge of completing four years without a podium appearance in a major international volleyball tournament, with their last medal dating back to 2013, when they won gold in the World League. Since then, the Europeans finished 4th in the 2016 Olympic Games and in the 2015 FIVB Volleyball World Cup, 5th in the 2014 FIVB Volleyball Men's World Championship and 5th, 8th and 7th in the last three editions of the World League.
The rebuilding has begun with numerous new faces added to the team and only two players back from their most recent Olympic roster – 22-year-old outside hitters Dmitry Volkov and Egor Kliuka.
To lead the rebuild, Russia has also made changes to its coaching staff, giving the keys of the team to coach Sergey Shliapnikov, who is well known for his work with the country’s age-group squads. The 55-year-old coach led the U19 team to the 1999 and 2011 FIVB Volleyball U19 World Championship golds as well as six European titles.Watch: Match reaction
“Our main target is the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games”, Shliapnikov said. “Until there, the plan is to use the tournaments we have on our schedule to call and observe as many players as possible. From there we will see who are the players who deserve to be part of the team and which is the tactical system that we should go for.”
Russia’s experimentations in the 2017 Final Six can be cut short, though, as the team finds itself in an uncomfortable position after the straight-sets setback to the Canadians. Now, they need to defeat hosts Brazil to still have an opportunity of ending their podium drought in Curitiba.
“We played the first two sets on the same level Canada did and the victory could have gone either way, but we completely lost our focus in the third set”, Shliapnikov added about the match. “Overall, we were below the level anyone expects for Russia. But we still believe that we can play better against Brazil and win the match.”
The Russians will take on the Brazilians on Thursday (July 6) at 15:05 (local time) in the last match in Pool J1.
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