It definitely was. Sheshenina was just 19, Tishchenko had surgery on both knees just a few months before OG and she could hardly even walk normally, Tebenikhina was good in the slide attack but I don't think I've ever seen a MB worse in blocking than her on high level. 16 years later it's still a mystery to me how they did it. Sure, Sokolova and Gamova played the major role, but apparently it was one of the matches where Karpol would unfold his magic. And to be fair, in the final Russia played really really well and pushed China to the edge!
Totally agree. It reminds me a little bit the WCH 2006 final, where Brazil was by far superior than Russia in more than the half of the positions. Nevertheless, Russia did it again.
But in Athens, the gap was even bigger. With all the due respect to Sheshenina, she was galaxies far to the level and experiencie of Fernanda, as well as Fofao. Two setters with many tournments over them, many nerve-wrecking matches, etc. Tebenikhina was a ghost in block in that match, as well as Tishchenko. I am almost sure Sheshenina was the top blocker from the russian side. That the setter is your top blocker in a team as Russia...it meant a lot.
About bench, well, Brazil beat Russia by far too. Karpol only had Artamonova there, who was injured. I know volleyball isnt just played with tecnic, strength, etc, but also with the brain and how to hold the emotions. Karpol had many Olympic SFs over him, it cleared helped a lot his team. So funny he was still screaming to her players even when they came tied the game many times and then cool down.
And last, Russia was trashed 3-0 in the preliminary round by China. Despite of all the level gap, again in the setter position (please..Kun Feng vs Sheshenina ), Russia was just 2 points away from the gold medal.
PS: Was Elisangela injured?