So far this is the worst start for Dynamo Moscow in Russian Men’s Superleague. It is hard to tell the reasons for the poor performance.



Was that because of the injuries or the key players got tired after Euro 2009? One thing is obvious: the head coach Pavel Bortsh must take some drastic measures. Otherwise the Dynamo’s management might get inpatient. Fakel, from the other side, continue to cruise with perfect 12 points. But starting from the next round, they will play Zenit and Iskra, the couple teams that are on fire this season. Those games would uncover more about the true potential of the Novy Urengoi’s team. Among player achievements I’d like to point out Michailov’s 112 points in four games.

Tyumen – Lokomotiv (Novosibirsk) 0:3 (11:25, 18:25, 16:25)

Tyumen’s team was not supposed to play in the Superleague. They got into the best Russian league only because Yugra-Samotlor (Nizhnevartovsk), team that finished on the ninth place in 2009 season, withdrew from Superleague due to financial difficulties. Getting chance to play in the top division is great. The question would be, is the team ready to compete in the Superleague? And from the game with Lokomotiv the answer would be: “No really.” The injury of the experienced outside hitter Tereshin is a big loss for Tyumen. The weakest link for the hosts was again the serve receiving. 11 errors in three sets would take down any team. Lokomotiv was better in each components of the game and its players barely break sweat marching to the victory in just one hour. Pavlov, Danilov and veteran Kazakov scored 13 points each. Tyumen’s best Kiktev had only 7.

Lokomotiv-Belogorie (Belgorod) – Iskra (Odintsovo) 3:0 (29:27, 26:24, 25:22)
The match between two leaders of the still young Superleague season was no doubt the highlight of the fourth round. Both teams delivered a little bit unexpected strong performance in the early rounds. Before this round Iskra won all games and lost just a point, Belgorod just lost in a very close game to the 2009 Superleague Champions Zenit. Victory would certainly boost the confidence of the winner. Despite Belgorod won in straight sets, the game was closely contested. The total point deference was only 7 points. Odintsovo’s head coach Tsvetnov said after game that Schops has cold and played with temperature. As result he did not performed as usually and had to be replaced by Kruglov in the third set. Schops scored only 6 points. Certainly, the outcome of the match might be different if he was healthy. Belgorod certainly proved that they are for real and with 10 points share the 2nd and 3rd place with Zenit. Iskra has to settle with 8 points to share 4th and 5th with Novosibirsk. Belgorod: Ilinykh – 18, Biryukov – 13, Khtei – 9; Iskra: Kalinin – 16, Kuleshov – 14, Spiridonov – 10.

Fakel (Novy Urengoi) – Lokomotiv-Izumrud (Ekaterinburg) 3:0 (27:25, 25:19, 25:15)
Lokomotiv fought bravely in the first set. After losing it they just gave up saving energy to battle Dinamo-Yantar in the next round. Fakel continues to win without Hansen, Rooney and Beketov. Fakel’s 17 blocks in three sets decided the result of the game. So far this is very impressive start for the Novy Urengoi team. We can expect even more from it when the big three get back into the lineup. Hosts setter Pavel Zaitsev showed some finesse in setting. Maybe it is time for the national team coach to pay attention to him? Fakel: Voronkov – 15, Kritsky – 13, Kosarev – 11; Lokomotiv: Gerasimov – 10, Aleksiev – 8.

Ural (Ufa) – Yaroslavich (Yaroslavl) 3:2 (25:20, 25:18, 24:26, 29:31, 15:13)

Ural won the first two sets without much problem and the game was heading to the straight sets rout. That was when Yaroslavich head coach Shlyapnikov in unexpected move put starting setter Khamutskikh on the bench. The incoming setter Zhloba turned the game around and Yaroslavl’s team won next two games in tough fight. In the tie break Ural stormed into 14:10 lead and eventually captured their first win in 2010 season. Mikhailov attacked 67 times and got 34 points. I’m still waiting for 50 points from him. It is amazing that this guy scores that many points considering fact that the opponents always concentrate on blocking him. On the other side of the net Serb Starovich got 29 points, Hungarian Veresh – 27 points, and Volvich blocked 8 times. This is 7th straight loss for Yaroslavl to Ural since 2005.
Dynamo-Yantar (Kaliningrad) – Dynamo (Moscow) 3:2 (15:25, 25:20, 19:25, 25:19, 16:14)
Four reasons to watch this game: 1. This is the first home game for Kaliningrad’s team; 2. Dynamo Moscow, the winner of recent Russia Super Cup 2009, has 6 members of the Russian National Team; 3. This is the first visit to Kaliningrad by former Yantar’s players Yakovlev, Zubkov, Botin and the former head coach Bortsh; 4. After three rounds both teams had the same 3 points and were placed on the 7-8 positions in the Superleague. In the first set of an emotional roller-coaster match Moscow simply dominated the host team. Yantar improved block in the second set and stormed back into the competition. Nilsson and Shakirov made some very impressive plays. In the third set Bortsh replaced Yakovlev and Botin with 22 year old Tyurin and 19 year old Markin to push Yantar to the brink of the defeat. Now it is the turn for Antonov’s move. He sent setter De Cecco into the action to speed up the Yantar’s attack. That proved to be the turning point. Yantar easily evened up the score and came out victorious out from the highly contested tie break. Nilsson attack gave Yantar the first match-point at 15:14. Moscow managed to erase it thanks to the Volkov’s effort. But guests were unable to recover from the second match-point by Shakirov: the same Volkov spiked outside of the court after perfect set by Grankin. Certainly well deserved win by Yantar. Moscow Dynamo has three losses after four games. It is the worst start of the team in the Superleague. Kaliningrad has now 5 points and the 6th place. Moscow is placed on the 8th place with 4 points. Yantar best scorers: Nilsson (24), Shakirov (14), Chaus (12); Dynamos: Berezhko (21), Volkov (14), Tyurin (12).

Gazprom-Yugra (Surgut) – Zenit (Kazan) 0:3 (24:26, 20:25, 18:25)
Kazan’s team dominated in the serve department 9 to 1. Under Zenit’s heavy bombardment Surgut’s receiving crumbled showing only 38% positive passes. Tetukhin alone delivered 5 aces. Yugra’s head coach Khabibullin started substitute setter Khabibullin junior in stead of Kolodinsky. The move was not that effective. Zenit: Tetyukhin – 15, Cherenisin – 14, Bogomolov – 9; Yugra – Bartman – 13. Not the best match for Surgut’s team. Zenit won all four games and still has room to improve, especially when Stanley returns from Puerto Rico.

Numbers…. Well, a lot of numbers (stats and etc.)
Best Scores:
Mikhailov – 34; Starovich – 29; Veresh – 27; Nilsson – 24; Berezhko – 21; Ilinykh – 18.

Best Spikers (Points/Errors/Succ %):
Kazakov – 13/0/85; Kuleshov – 11/1/82; Chaus – 14/1/71; Pavlov – 15/2/67;

Best Blockers:
Ivanov – 8; Starovich, Kuleshov – 5.

Best Receivers (Total/Errors/Pos%):
Obmochaev – 22/1/73; Khtei – 24/0/71; Veresh – 30/0/67.

Tetyukhin, Danilov – 5; Pavlov – 3.

Elsewhere in the League ….

2010 Superleague All-Star Event.
This season’s All-Star event would be extended into two days event (January 30-31, 2010). This is significant change since the last year. The purpose is to increase volleyball popularity and draw more public attention to the Superleague competition. Last years event in Surgut was a total success. The game was televised over the whole country and attracted a lot of viewers.
The first day would feature open practice, master-class, meeting with fans and team photo-session in the morning. In the evening fans can see technical skills competitions and even participate in some of them. There would be also 4×4 volleyball games. The All-Star game is scheduled on the second day. The game is preceded by Veterans All-Star and Junior All-Star games.
Russian Volleyball Federation would consider all cities expressed desire to host the All-Star Event and pick the location by December 1, 2009.