Underdogs´ supremacy in Superleague

"Underdogs´ Supremacy" that was the 8th round of 2010 Russian Men’s Superleague. It was the round when underdogs stroke back, only Kazan got a single win for favorites.



Gazprom-Ugra (12th) overcame Ural (7th), Tyumen (11th) humiliated Belgorod (3rd),  Yaroslavich (10th) upset Yantar (6th), Dynamo Moscow (9th place) dethroned Iskra (2nd), Fakel (5th) surprised Novosibirsk (4th). Only Kazan (1st) got a single win for favorites by beating Izumrud (8th).
We saw signs of time of the change, and now the changes are here. And that is good, because it is getting more interesting.

Dynamo (Moscow) – Iskra (Odintsovo) 3-2 (25:18, 19:25, 25:22, 21:25, 15:11)
Usually the game between the second and the ninth team would not attract much attention. But the ninth team is Dynamo Moscow. The team started miserably into the 2010 season and it continued to struggle after the break. Moscow lost to Kazan in the 7th round without much fight and there was not much hope in the sight too. Wait, there is a hope: big hope from Brazil named Dante. He is here and he will start in the match against Iskra. This context makes the game the central game of the round. Dynamo has another stimulus to play well: last season Iskra too away both games in the regulation and eliminated Dynamo in the playoffs. So Moscow definitely has something to prove in the game.
Dynamo will play without Sivozhelez, who is still recovering from injury. Iskra’s big scorer Schops just got back into the lineup, but is not up yet 100%. As result he played out of bench first sets and started only in the fifth. Iskra’s offensive load was spread evenly between Kalinin, Kruglov and Spiridonov. They all earned about the same amount of points, but only Spiridonov had effectiveness about 50%.
Dante appeared in Dynamo’s starting lineup just 4 days after he arrived in Moscow. His son is doing much better and he can return to Moscow to play for Dynamo. Here he will rejoin his effort with Yakovlev, with whom he already played two season in Italy (Modena). Yakovlev took Dante’s last year shirt number 10, so now Dante has 17 on his shirt. Of course it is hard to expect him to perform to his best on such short notice. But his presence alone added to the mental strength of the team. Dante himself scored 9 points with 33% offense effectiveness. But the good news for Dynamo is Berezhko and Yakovlev finally played up to their potentials.
Dynamo started much better jumping into 5:0 early lead.  Volkov lead the charge and the host team easily took the first set 25:18. Dynamo kept pushing in the second set and had 11:6 lead. Odintsovo’s head coach Tsvetanov had to take first timeout. The interruption worked and Iskra was ahead by the second technical 16:15. Dynamo lost touch for some moments committing unforced errors. As result, Odintsovo striked back and took the second set behind some great plays by Kalinin and Astasenkov.
Both team fought well in the third set and the score was tight all the way to 22:22. Kruglov made service error, Dante aced his first one to get the set point and then Tsherbinin’s block got the set for Dynamo. The mistakes by the very same players that got the set for Dynamo, cause the fourth set to go the Iskra’s way.
The tie break was unexpectedly easy for Moscow team. They got the 6:3 lead and never got threatened after that and Dynamo won the set 15:11 and got two points.
Yakovlev ended up with the MVP award for the match. Poltavsky was the substitute this time coming out to serve. Berezhko scored 23 points, Yakovlev 20, Volkov 12 and Tsherbinin 10 points. On the Iskra side Spiridonov got 15 points for Iskra, Kalin-14, Kruglov 13 and Astashenkov – 9 points.
Iskra kept their second place but now they are three points behind the leading Zenit and followed by Fakel and Belgorod just a point behind. Dynamo is now on the seventh place with 9 points. They still have a long way to go, considering Zenit’s 21 points.

Tyumen (Tyumen) – Lokomotiv-Belogorie (Belgorod) 3-2 (19:25, 26:24, 22:25, 25:20,15:13)
Before the break Tyumen lost first six games and Belgorod won five out of six first games. After the break the situation reversed. After this win the host team is on the two wins row, and Belgorod dropped straight two games.
The result was unexpected consider the first Tyumen’s victory came against Izumrud which has much less impressive roster than Belgorod. Yet Tyumen after losing the first set, and falling behind after the third set 1:2 managed to mount an impressive comeback. This time Belgorod’s offense had problem scoring: offensive effectiveness was only 15% for Khtei. Other three players ended with less then 40%: Biryukov and Ilinykh (39%) and Krasikova (38%). Among the leaders only Musersky had 52% and Kajevich had 73%. Tyumen was attacking with higher precision with average 60% versus Belgorod’s 38%. That decided the outcome of the match.
Nevertheless Belgorod managed to get a point in both losses and with 17 points remains in the leaders group. They have a lot of young players that tend to have ups and downs, especially now when the first excitement of the new season is gone. And also Belgorod just had a long trip to play away games. They will back home next round and they will play better.
It is time to say congratulations to Tyumen’s team. Everything came together for them recently and now it is a power that no team in the Superleague can underestimate. The host team tripled their point count after the break. Yet because Yugra did even better, Tyumen moved to the last place. They will face powerful Kazan in the next round, the matchup in which nobody would bet for them. But, again, not many believed that Tyumen had chances against Belgorod too.
Tyumen: Boyarchuk – 27, Kiktev – 17, Dubrovin – 16, Titarenko – 11.
Belgorod: Musersky – 21, Ilinykh – 18, Biryukov – 15, Kajevich – 14.

Gazprom-Yugra (Surgut) – Ural (Ufa) 3-1 (25:21; 25:27; 25:21; 25:22)
Surgut team fought well in the previous round with Izumrud, but end up without a single point. But they impressed specialists with their improved play. Several injured players like Proskurnya and Poroshin are back into the shape and now the team has more offensive options. With a home victory over Ural they earned full three points, just as many points they got in all previous seven games. What is important too is they got the victory against Ural, the team that is on the rise and won 9 matches in a row. This streak ended in Surgut.
Ural won a tough five set fight against Belgorod, and this outing was not the best for them. The team got used play at home too. Ufa had a chance to move closer to the leaders, instead now they are just two points from the last place.
Shulepov led the host team with 24 points and 55% effectiveness, Andrei Maximov was by his side with 23 points, Proskurnya was very efficient (80%) and scored 13 points, Gutsalyuk added 12. Veresh was again the best for the guest team, followed by Bovdoi (13) and Starovic (12). Last game heroes Melnik and Volvich got only 6 points each.

Fakel ( Novy Urengoi) – Lokomotiv (Novosibirsk) 3-1 (25:19; 22:25; 25:15; 25:23)
Both team faced a strong opposition from teams settled at the bottom of the ranking. Fakel barely survived the surge by Yaroslavl’s team. They eventually prevailed after tie break but lost a point. Lokomotiv earned all three points and had to fight hard with Gazprom. Only a point splits two opponents before the 8th round with Novosibirsk in the fourth place, and Fakel right behind them.
The matchup between Fakel and Lokomotiv is always very interesting. In several seasons these two teams split points. This year teams already played twice, with Fakel winning both games. Additional intrigue of the matchup is the presence of two Americans on each side: Hansen and Rooney for Fakel and Priddy and Lee for Lokomotiv. Rooney did not play due to injury after all, but the rest of Olympians played significant role.
Fakel was on the top in the third time this season. Leaders on the guest team was a bit slow this night with Pavlov finishing only 24% of attacks, and Priddy 35%. Novosiblirsk brought in Danilov instead of Pavlov, but that did not help a lot. Efforts from Lee, Kazakov and Korneev was not enough to overcome solid performance by Fakel. Novikov and Rossamakhnin lead the host team with 21 and 17 points. Both delivered 59% effectiveness. Kritsky contributed 13 points, matched by Kosarev, who played much better than the last game. Beketov was not as brilliant as in the previous round, but still added 11 points. Korneev had 11 points for Novosibirsk, Priddy 11 and Kazakov and Lee 10 points each.
After the home victory Fakel returned to the top third place, pushing Belgorod down because of sets ration. Novosibrsk now own the fifth place with 15 points.

Dynamo-Yantar (Kaliningrad) – Yaroslavich (Yaroslavl) 1-3 (22:25, 25:21, 20:25, 21:25)
Both teams lost players due to injure. Yantar lost Obmochaev, Krivets, and their main scorer Nilsson, Yaroslavich is playing without Serb Yanic. Obviously the injuries hurt Yantar more – they lost 7th round matchup against Iskra without any chances. Yaroslavice fought Fakel to the end and earned a point. To add salt to the wound, Yantar’s starting setting De Cecco was injured in the first set and had to be replaced by Ignatiev. Nevertheless the host team refused to go down with out fight and managed to grab the second set. Yaroslavich was again relying on Makhaimov and he was totally up to expectations, dominating the opponents with 37 points. Tkachenko established himself as Yantar’s leader and got 21 points (+11). Chaus (12), Eremin (11) and Shakurov (10) were the other scorers for the host team. On Yaroslavl’s team apart from Mikhailov only Afinogenov made to the double digits, but that was enough for the guest to get victory. Three points lifted Yaroslavich to the top half of the Superleague – they moved from the tenth place to the sixth. Kaliningrad moved down from sixth to the eighth place.

Lokomotiv-Izumrud (Ekaterinburg) – Zenit (Kazan) 1-3 (22:25; 25:20; 12:25; 20:25)
Nobody thought Izumrud had any chances against the reigning champions and the leader of the 2010 season Zenit. Kazan’s head coach was pretty confident too. So initially he sent the reserves Abrosimov, Garkushenko and Kulikovsky into the fight. They fought well enough to take the first set. But in the second set Ekaterinburg figured out them and took the second set. As result Alekno had to send his old guard onto the court. With Tetyukhin, Bogomolov, Cheremisin and Ball in the lineup Zenit roll over Izumrud without visible problem. Zenit how have the firm grasp of the first place widening the gape with the second place to three points. Izumrud is now in the dangerous zone just two points ahead of the last place.
Izumrud: Aleksiev – 22, Alexandrovich – 11.
Zenit: Panteleimonenko – 17, Cheremisin – 13, Apalikov, Tetyukhin – all 9.

Numbers…. Well, a lot of numbers (stats and etc.)
Best Scores:
Mikhailov – 37; Boyarchuk – 27; Shulepov – 24; Maximov, Berezhko – 23; Aleksiev – 22.
Best Spikers (Points/Errors/Succ %):
Cheremisin – 11/1/69; Novikov – 19/0/59; Dubrovin – 13/1/57; Spiridonov – 14/1/56.
Best Blockers:
Gutsalyuk – 8; Musersky – 7; Titarenko, Apalikov – 5.
Best Receivers (Total/Errors/Pos%):
Panteleimonenko – 29/0/83; Eremin – 26/2/81; Berezhko – 39/2/79.
Kruglov, Panteleimonenko – all 4; Eremin, Poccamakhin, Volkov – all 3.

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