Sapozhkov sparks Russia’s opening day win at U21 Men’s World Championship


Manama, Bahrain, July 18, 2019 – Maksim Sapozhkov played the biggest role in opening Russia’s campaign at the FIVB Volleyball Men’s U21 World Championship, scoring 24 points in their 3-1 (25-22, 18-25, 25-21, 25-13) victory over the Czech Republic on Thursday.

Sapozhkov went on an offensive spree, recording 21 attacks and two aces and contributing a block to Russia’s total of nine in the match. Ivan Kuznetkov also helped out on offence with 11 attacks and an ace, then Artem Melnikov took care of their defence with four blocks. Czech Republic’s Marek Sotola made 22 points on a losing effort.

Russia coach Andrey Nozdrin made some key substitutions in the third set, following a split of set-wins. Nozdrin utilised Egor Kretchetov to call the plays, involving Sapozhkov and Kuznetcov more in scoring in the third frame. By the fourth set, the Russians had command and limited their rivals to scoring only 13 points to secure their first win in the tournament.

In the other Pool C encounter, Iran opened their campaign with a 3-0 (25-13, 25-19, 25-19) win led by captain Amirhossein Esfandiar who recorded 11 points against Tunisia. Iran’s great service game was key to their first win, as Esfandiar and Amir Hossein Toukhteh contributing three and four aces, respectively, to the team’s total of 13.

Meanwhile, in Pool A, China won their first match in straight sets (25-16, 25-23, 25-13) against Morocco. Xiu Chengcheng and Zhai Deijun had a productive performance against the African side, each having equal outputs of 12 attacks and two service winners, then Li Ao came off the bench in the opening set to add 10 markers.

Hosts Bahrain prevailed in their U21 World Championship opener with a strong performance, recording a straight-set (25-18, 25-14, 25-20) win over Puerto Rico.

The Bahrainis, led by Hasan Mohamed and Mahmoud Abdulhusain, outperformed the Puerto Ricans in attacks (32-27), blocks (7-2) and service aces (5-4). Mohamed and Abdulhusain finished with 12 points each, while Sebastian Negron led Puerto Rico as the lone double-digit scorer with 12 markers.

The preliminary round matches will continue on Friday, July 19, with Pool C matchups between Tunisia and Czech Republic at 11:30 local time and Iran and Russia at 14:00. Pool A encounters will feature matches between China and Puerto Rico at 16:40, and Bahrain and Morocco at 19:00.

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