11:05 pm - Monday August 20, 2018

Tragic Ending for Russian Women’s Team in Rio 2016: What’s Up and Next?

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marichevy17 August 2016 saw the darkest day in recent years in Russian’s volleyball world since the girls was sent home in such a shockingly tragic way by Serbia in quarterfinals Rio Olympics 2016. The reason why the news shocked the world is not only because of the result itself but the overall performance of the team which is far from a professional team level. The team has even made a record for the lowest score earned per set (9-25) in the first set which is unacceptable for a head-head between 2 top powerhouses in Europe. In this article, russiavolley.com will give an overall review of the problems including the coaching problems under Yuri Marichev’s reign these years.

Reception is a key problem

The reception workload was heavily levied on libero Anna Malova and Wing Spiker Yana Shcherban. If Yana’s performance is unstable, even with the best receiver in the tournament, Malova, it cannot help.  Although it is not a new problem for the Russian Team in terms of reception, the girls today surprised us with 12-point errors that setter was not able to set up for the attack. Though Yana was replaced by Voronkova, the condition was not getting any better. According to our observation, Voronkova’s preparation act, she is not well trained in reception.

Low concentration during the match 

Except Tatiana Kosheleva, the whole team failed to get focused throughout the match. This may also be explained by the fact that quite a number of players in the court lack experience in such a high level international event. As such, this also reflected the problem with the selection of players and the last minute change of player list just before the Olympics.

Team Composition

As you may recall, this team composition was not confirmed until the last minute before the Olympics. Back in July after the World Grand Prix Finals, Marichev made a risky decision by dismissing a few of the key players in the team including Wing Spiker Ilchenko, Setter Babeshina and Statrtseva, Middle Blocker Lybushkina as well as  the Opposite Spiker Malykh; at the same time wing spiker Voronkova and setter Vetrova were enlisted in the Olympic team. This head to toe shuffle has clearly caused more harm than benefits to the team. Under this composition, most of the players including the 2 setters, Pankova and Vetrova are form the same club (Dinamo Moscow). This combination will limit the strategic change required during the match as the style of two setters from the same club hardly differ much from each other. Another dilemma worth mentioned here is that Vetrova is the first setter in club, who also demonstrated more consistent performance in setting than Pankova, captain of the national team. Shared also by several legends including Nikolai Karpol and Elena Godina, the current composition lacks veteran players that build cohesion and confidence for the lineup. Gamova is one of the stars in all our mind. We recall that she had publicly revealed how she was ready to offer help to the national team in the Rio and retired until Marichev eventually closed the door for her.

Coaching Problems

To be fair, Marichev contributed several achievement for the country since his taking charge as head coach in 2013. Under his reign. He helped the team win two European Championship titles and successfully brought in new blood with great potential to the national team, for instance, Fetisova, Shlyakhovaya, Shcherban. However, he failed to enhance the team’s performance further while other European countries such as The Netherlands and Serbia have made significant improvement progress as we can see in the World Cup, World Grand Prix and Rio Olympics. In fact, regardless of the World Grand Prix, the national team earned no medal in any big international events such as World Championship, World Cup and the Olympic Games.

Although he always attempts to use all players in every game, he barely gave good chance to the players to gain sufficient on-court experience. For example, in WGP, he brought 3 setters (Pankova, Startseva and Babeshina) along the tournament but he mainly used Pankova in the starting lineup. Startseva and Babeshina were only called in during double substitution which lasted fewer than 2 points. The same also happened to Vetrova in the OG.

In addition, his on-court coaching is always proven questionable and ineffective, exemplified by his  unnecessary calling for challenge and double-substitution. He often made a wrong decision to call challenge that we always witnessed him using up the quota in the beginning of set, not to mention he low successful rate. He is so notorious for his ineffective double substitution. This tactic is actually common in all teams which helps the team to remain 3 attacking position in the front and also strengthen the blocking. The reason for the ineffectiveness is as simple as that Malygina or previously Malykh, is not strong enough. Recall that Godina previously revealed that Malykh could not manage to attack at zone 4 in the court. Therefore, this explains why the substitution last only for 1 or 2 points and how this significantly affected the match rhythm of the team. On yesterday’s match against Serbia, Marichev and his fellow coaching teammates even made an unforgivable error that they forgot he had already used up the substitution quota. As a result, the top scorer, Goncharova was sitting on the bench while Malygina remained in the court, who then served long in the very last point, sending Serbia to the semi-finals.

Up Next

Maybe at least something good to hear, it is likely that Rio Olympic will be the last game coached by Marichev, who will then be working as head coach for a club in Poland. Who will be the next head coach for Russia national team? Will he be Pankova’s father, Pankov? No matter whom it will be, priority needs to be given to addressing issues about the combination of players, especially the sustainability of the attackers. Who will be the next Kosheleva and Goncharova (they will be over 30 in  Tokyo OG 2020)? Actually, we believe the situation is not that bad as the current composition does have some magnificent players including Fetisova, Zaryazhko and Malova who are regarded as the best middle blockers and libero respectively all these years. Let us remain faithful to the team and wish them a bright future with a new coach.

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4 Comments on "Tragic Ending for Russian Women’s Team in Rio 2016: What’s Up and Next?"

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Precisely well written article!  I agree with everything point you made here thank you!I like to add a few thoughts here:1. Why Marichev stayed on the post for so long though the problems were obvious way before this Rio game?  A simple answer to that is the great Russian attackers bailed him out again and again which resulted in this tragic ending when they cannot do it anymore.  2. Look through current world powers in women volleyball, every team has what Russia has, good attackers.  But they have more: great setters who often confuse opponent’s blockers to guess where the… Read more »
Actually, Kosheleva and Goncharova can still play in Tokyo 2020 (if they still want to). Knowing that Sokolova and Gamova played in the London 2012 and they’re both 30+. I think Kosheleva and Goncharova can still play in Tokyo 2020 because of their high athleticism. But, they should develop a young talent in their open and outside hitter. For me, Natalia Malykh does well in the opposite position and she can also kill some balls in the back row. She must be given more experience and more court time. Her opposite plays is much faster that Goncharova. And she’s still… Read more »



Very helpful and Great information, we appreciate advise especially coming from a professional. Thanks again and keep up the great work!