Zenit back from the brink in Russia Final Six


Maxim Mikhailov celebrates as Zenit Kazan pull together to come back from two sets down in their opening match of the Russian Superleague Final Six.

Lausanne, Switzerland, May 7, 2017 - Defending champions Zenit Kazan survived a five-set scare as they came back from two sets down to edge Lokomotiv Novosibirsk 3-2 (20-25, 21-25, 25-16, 25-22, 19-17) in their opening match at the Russian men's Superleague Final Six in Moscow, Sunday evening.

Just a week after claiming their third straight and fourth overall European Champions League title in Rome (which also earned them a ticket to the 2017 FIVB Club World Championship next December in Poland), Zenit seemed tired.

"Today we played our worst game of the season - but we still won, which is positive" said Zenit coach Vladimir Alekno after the match.

But after dropping a point, Zenit still need two sets on Monday against Gazprom-Yugra Surgut in the last match of Pool A to claim their ticket to Wednesday's semifinals.

Maxim Mikhailov and Wilfredo Leon shared top-scoring honours with 21 points each, as USA's Matt Anderson added another 17 including five aces.

Sergei Savin with 19 points was Lokomotiv's best scorer, but with the score tied at 17-all in the tie-break he attacked wide before Andrey Ashchev blocked Vyacheslav Tarasov to bring the game home.

In Pool B Dinamo Moscow also opened their campaign with a win - albeit in much less dramatic fashion as they swept Belogorie Belgorod 3-0 (25-18, 25-23, 25-20). Dinamo need just one set on Monday over winless and setless Fakel Novy Urengoy to advance to the semifinals - and pull Belogorie through with them.

The bronze medal match and final are on Thursday.

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