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Triple Argentine blocking against the best Russian spiker, Mikhaylov

Hamamatsu, Japan, November 28, 2011 - Coming off their fifth win of the 2011 FIVB World Cup against European Champions Serbia, Russia beat Argentina on Monday in straight sets 3-0 (25-22, 25-23, 25-19). Leading Russia in scoring was Maxim Mikhaylov, the tournament’s sixth leading scorer before Monday’s games, with 16 points. For the losing Argentinean squad, both Facundo Conte and Federico Pereyra had 11 points a piece.

The 22-year-old Conte came out firing for the Argentinians in the opening set, scoring four early including an ace to go ahead three. He showed great hustle on defense too, running down a ball that went past his own bench, but Nikolay Apalikov would clinch that point to help bring his side back to within one at 8-7. Argentina would build a lead late going ahead 19-15 on a well-placed Quiroga ace. But a block from Alexander Volkov on Pablo Crer brought Russia back at 19-19, and from there Mikhaylov took over, with three key spikes (of his eight in the set) to take the first 25-23.

In the second Sebastian Solé was blocking well, stopping an attacking Mikhaylov twice, the latter for his fourth block of the match to edge ahead 12-11. Russia was not serving but managed to take a 16-14 lead at the second TTO with a clever dump up front by Alexander Butko. Argentina would tie at 18 with a Conte spike, but Sergey Tetyukhin put a key block on Pereyra to go ahead by two again, and another block by the captain Taras Khtey on Conte helped close 25-22, two sets to one.

Russia’s Volkov continued to play well up front showing finesse on a soft tip past Argentina’s blockers, as well great defense with a block on Pereyra to go ahead 12-9. Butko followed with a stuff on Conte, his second of the match. Russia still had issues from the service line, but Argentina wasn’t mistake-free either as a Mariano Giustiniano spikes went wide to give the Russians a 21-15 lead, and an Ivan Castellani serve out would give them the match 25-19, three sets to zero.

Russia has won 10 of the previous 11 meetings with Argentina, including the past six. In the last meeting, Russia topped Argentina in three sets in the 2010 FIVB World Championship third round. Argentina’s lone victory was a five-set win in the 1990 FIVB World Championship qualification round.

Press Conference:

Argentina coach Javier Weber: First my compliments to Russia and to their coach. They played better than Argentina at the end of the sets. In the first and second sets they attacked better than us. We played well until we hit 18 points, and after this point I was waiting for some reaction from my team. But I think after 18 points Argentina quit.

[Late in the sets], the difference was the attacking play. Russia played better in attack, and this made the difference. Argentina made mistakes attacking but Russia did not.

On playing Italy next: Italy is a very good team. I think maybe after Russia and Brazil, they are the best in this tournament. To win that match we need to play better than today — we need to win that match.

Argentina captain Rodrigo Quiroga: I think we played the first two sets at the same level [as Russia], but we had maybe two or three mistake in each set, and that’s why we lost. Against Russia, you can’t make mistakes. Today they played at the same level the whole match that’s why they won. Now we have to think about tomorrow and get past this match.

Russia coach Vladimir Alekno: As for Argentina, I have known their coach since our playing days. He did a good job to bring much improvement to their national team. I expect their team will be among the best in world in the future.

Today was not easy to win. We played a lot in the past days and this was not a simple match up for us.

On Dmitriy Muserskiy not playing: He is not suffering any injury but he’s not doing so well, so that’s why he wasn’t on the court today.

On facing Cuba next: Cuba is a strong and powerful team, and perhaps they have a chance for London (i.e. winning a top three spot in this tournament). So after this game we’ll prepare for them and consider what we need to do to beat them.

Russia captain Taras Khtey: Argentina is a good, strong team, and it wasn’t easy to win today. Gaining just one point was difficult for us as there were many long rallies where the ball went over the net five or six times. We prepared well, and studied their game formation, and that helped us pick up the three points today.

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