The quarterfinal matches of the play-offs of the Russian Volleyball Championship took place

The quarterfinal matches of the play-offs of the Russian Volleyball Championship took place


So far, only Zenit Kazan has reached the play-off semi-finals of the Russian Volleyball Championship, beating Yenisei in two matches. In the remaining pairs with the participation of Dynamo Moscow and Zenit from St. Petersburg, Belogorye and Kuzbass, Lokomotiv and Fakel, the score was equal, and a third meeting will be required to determine the winner.

Before the second matches of the play-off quarterfinals, the main attention, of course, was focused on the confrontation between Lokomotiv and Fakel. After all, a very big sensation was brewing in it after the first meeting in Novosibirsk was won by the young and early wards of Roman Empolov, who himself worked in the youth league last season. Moreover, they eliminated one of the medal contenders, who finished second in the regular season, quite easily, in just four games, and all they had to do to reach the semifinals was win at home.

The Novy Urengoy team themselves took seventh place in the regular season and, having defeated Dynamo from the Leningrad Region in the qualifying round of the play-offs, it seemed that they had already reached the ceiling for this season. Moreover, at the height of the championship, the leading diagonal player Vladislav Babkevich and the most experienced finishing player Evgeniy Sivozhelez left them and moved to St. Petersburg. And it was not the famous Olympic champion Sergei Grankin, who served as the second setter, who passed the ball, but 22-year-old Mikhail Vyshnikov. The 39-year-old veteran in this “Torch” is a kind of uncle-mentor, and some players even call him by his first name and patronymic.

At the Zvezdny sports palace, the Yamal club took the starting set with courage – 25:22.

Everything was decided by two power serves from Vitaly Dikarev. First, he scored an ace, and then knocked the guests out of the reception, and Vasily Kapranov pushed the passing ball. Fakel’s 18-year-old finisher was generally useful beyond his years, and largely thanks to him, the hosts caught up and then overtook Lokomotiv in the second game. Trailing 7:10, they took the lead – 13:10. True, the diagonal Korney Enns dropped out of the game somewhat, and perhaps it was his points that were not enough for the Novy Urengoy team to lead 2:0 in sets. And so the Novosibirsk team strengthened their serve and pulled out this extremely important segment of the match – 25:23.

However, the local failure did not affect “Fakel”, and in the next game he still fought on equal terms with the favorite. Even when another failure occurred at Enns and the railway workers turned the difference “minus two” into “plus two”, the hosts rebooted on the fly and again restored parity. Here Grankin and the reserve diagonal Nikita Morozov, who is 18 years younger than him, have already come in handy. Enns and Vyshnikov took a little rest during the double substitution, and this showed in the end, when the volleyball players from Novy Urengoy eliminated the double set point and won 27:25.

The fourth game could have been the last, but something immediately went wrong for “Fakel”.

The guests received a five-goal head start and subsequently only increased their advantage, postponing the outcome of the match until the tiebreak – 25:14. And there the Yamal team again let Lokomotiv go a comfortable distance of three points, which is difficult to win back in a shortened set format. In addition, the Novosibirsk team practically did not give them such chances and put the pressure on the opponent – 15:11. Thus, this series of up to two victories will end in Novosibirsk.

It was not possible to avoid the third match and “Belogorye” in the quarterfinals with “Kuzbass”.

Having convincingly dealt with him on their own field (3:0), the Belgorod team could easily finish everything in Kemerovo. Even when Sergei Trotsky’s team took the next two sets after losing the first set, they crushed it in the fourth game, and then were constantly in the lead in the tiebreaker, starting it with a 4:0 spurt. However, in the decisive rallies, the guests’ main scorers, Moroccan diagonal Mohammed Al Khachdadi and captain Pavel Tetyukhin, faltered. “Kuzbass” won 3:2 (22:25, 25:22, 25:23, 14:25, 18:16), and now the clubs will have to return to Tula, where “Belogorye” holds home matches.

The intrigue continued in the Dynamo series with Zenit St. Petersburg.

Although at home, the Muscovites spent only three sets on Sergio Busato’s charges, and there was a stubborn fight only in the first. The leader of the blue and white Tsvetan Sokolov then showed some crazy 80% efficiency in attack, and the finishing player Anton Semyshev showed an equally impressive 73% for his role. And yet, at home, Zenit had reason to expect success.

The St. Petersburgers gave away the first game too easily and really got their teeth into the second game, which did not fit into the standard 25 points and lasted 44 minutes. On the third attempt they scored a set point and leveled the score. The third game was initially in favor of Zenit, and its advantage at the peak was six goals. On the road, Sokolov didn’t seem to be so scary, but the St. Petersburg scorer Babkevich got excited. Nevertheless, the owners almost squandered everything they had acquired through back-breaking labor, and again won by a small margin. And in the fourth set they again lost to Dynamo without any options, so it came to a tiebreaker. As a result, Zenit still snatched victory by blocking Sokolov on match point (19:25, 30:28, 27:25, 19:25, 15:13).

Two matches in the quarterfinals were enough only for Zenit Kazan. And if at home the current champions of the country gave one game to Yenisei, then in Krasnoyarsk they managed it in three.

Alexander Ilyin


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