The reigning Olympic champions head into the World Championship ranked world number two. And while the participation of Russia in the World Championship – five appearances (1994, 1998, 2002, 2006, 2010) and one medal (silver in 2002) – may not look overly impressive, the history of men’s volleyball in the region is remarkable. When the nation was part of the Soviet Union, the team won six world championships, took silver in two and bronze in three. Only once did the USSR finish outside the medal places, ending in sixth in 1970. Since the dissolution of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s, Russia have remained strong, never finishing outside the top seven. Four years ago the nation took fifth place.
Since then, though, Andrey Voronkov’s team have shown why they are currently among the top seeds. Russia have beaten Brazil – the reigning world champion – three times in international events in the past two years, including in the gold-medal match at the 2012 Olympic Games.
Either side of that triumph, Russia won the World League and World Cup in 2011, and two years later regained the World League and added a first ever European Championship to their roll of honour. They will be looking to bounce back from a disappointing fifth place finish at the 2014 World League where they lost to Iran and Brazil in the Finals.