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04/09/2014 19:27
From swimming pool to volleyball: Ilia Vlasov shines in Russian team
2014 CEV U20 Volleyball European Championship - Men

Nitra, Slovakia, September 4, 2014.  The Russian team at the 2014 CEV U20 Volleyball European Championship - Men is full of personalities.  Setter Pavel Pankov and opposite Victor Poletaev, for example, two players with experience from Russia’s Superliga are considered to be future stars of world volleyball.  There is another player who certainly deserves attention and this is the middle blocker Ilia Vlasov, the tallest player at the Final Round in Nitra and Brno.

It is not possible to oversee Ilia not only because of his tall figure - 212 cm, but also because he is incredibly strong at the net and with his spiking reach of 365 cm can attack easily over the block of the opponent.  Vlasov collected 47 points during the first part of the tournament, among them 11 killing blocks and made his substantial contribution to Russia’s first place in the pool.

"I think we played at our normal level in Nitra, but we can play better.  We made a lot of errors, especially against Italy.  That game was something like a warning for us and we must put on a better performance in Brno.  I know that we can, because we have a strong team," said Vlasov.

He is wearing number 13 on his shirt like his older compatriot and international superstar Dmitriy Muserskiy from the senior national team of Russia.  "I like Muserskiy of course and I want one day to play like him, but I do not wear number 13 because of him. The manager gave me this number and I play with it.  I do not care much about numbers," added Vlasov, who won a gold medal at the 2013 CEV Youth Volleyball European Championship - Boys in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia and was honored as the Best Blocker of the tournament.

It is really hard to believe that Vlasov has been playing volleyball for only three years.  "I started to play volleyball when I was 16.  Before that I was swimmer," said Vlasov and the manager of the Russian team Nikolai Kapranov, who helped with translation, added:  "I know that he had very good results in swimming, but of course we are happy that he decided to change his career."  The reason why he changed the swimming pool with the volleyball court is simple.  "When I was at school, coaches of the team from my native city Fakel NOVY URENGOY saw that I am tall and they called me to training.  Immediately after the first practice I knew that I want to play volleyball and I am happy for my decision," explained the 19-year-old teenager, who was born on August 3, 1995.  He spent the last three seasons in the junior team of Fakel, but from next season he will play for the senior team in the professional league.

The Russian team came to Slovakia and the Czech Republic with one goal - to take the gold.  "The Russian team always has the biggest ambitions in every tournament.  We want to win the gold medal and any other placement is not interesting for us," said Vlasov.

The head coach of Russia Sergey Shlyapnikov is very strict with his players.  "Discipline and concentration are very important in a collective sport.  We are playing like a team and without discipline it is not possible to reach a positive result," concluded Ilia Vlasov.

The Russian team has now travelled from Nitra to Brno where it will face Slovenia in one of Friday’s semifinals, starting at 15:00 local time.

Click here for schedule, results, standings, photos and more...

All European Championship games in Brno are streamed live on

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05/09/2014 10:06:00
Four matches to be televised from Brno, live streams and live photos coming up
03/09/2014 22:49:00
Russia wins pool, France comes second; Italy, Serbia to travel to Brno for fifth place

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