Milan, Italy, September 21, 2018 – In the opening match of the second round at the Forum di Assago in Milan, the reigning European champions from Russia needed only three sets to rout the Netherlands (25-17, 25-16, 25-21). Dmitry Volkov and Maxim Mikhaylov were pivotal to Russia’s victory as they scored 15 and 13 points, respectively.
The Netherlands felt the pressure of the European champions, who immediately took the lead at 12-8. Dutch coach Gido Vermeulen called his men to the side to try to reset his team but Russia were able to stand any attempt of a comeback from the Netherlands. Dutch team captain Nimir Abdel-Aziz was not able to support his team with his usual powerful spikes, while Russia were perfect in all aspects of the game and with their best player of the set, Dmitry Volkov (8 points), cruised to an easy win (25-17).
Russia kept the momentum also in the second set, racing to a comfortable advantage at 18-12. Coach Vermeulen tried different solutions from the bench, giving a break to his captain Abdel-Aziz, but Russia were unstoppable, with Volkov and Maxim Mikhaylov on top form, to secure another compelling 25-16 win.
The show was on in the third set. The Netherlands came back to the court more determined and with some powerful actions of their captain Abdel-Aziz, they snatched the lead at 5-3 which, however, triggered an immediate reply on the Russian side for a mighty 12-7. The battle continued and, courtesy of Dutch spiker Thijs ter Host, who in the end top scored for his team with 13 points, the underdogs shortened the distance at 21-22. This, however, was not enough to stop the reigning European and VNL champions who closed the match at 25-21 for a comprehensive 3-0 victory to improve their record in the tournament to four wins and two losses.