Russia Water Polo

Sintez, Spartak stage replay of last year’s finals

Spartak vs. Shturm

Spartak Volgograd won both away and at home to sweep Shturm 2002 in the Russian Superleague best-of-three semifinal series. In the finals, the reigning champion will face Sintez Kazan in a replay of last year’s clash that saw the Volgograd squad capture its seventh title in as many years.

After winning the series opener in Ruza, Moscow region, Vladimir Karabutov’s squad dominated Shturm 2002 in the second game in Volgograd on Friday, eventually thrashing the opponent 10-4. Sergei Lisunov stole the show by scoring five of his team’s first six goals. Artyom Ashayev backed him up with a hat-trick and Pavel Khalturin chipped in two more goals. The game was decided in the first period when the hosts built a comfortable three-goal advantage, and then went on to win the remaining three quarters as well (4-1, 1-0, 2-1, 3-2).

The other semifinal series ended in a genuine thriller as Sintez, the third-place finisher in the regular season, clinched a surprise win over second-placed Dynamo Moscow on its home turf on Friday. Sintez edged the Muscovites 10-9 in the March 25 opener in Kazan, and traveled to the Russian capital needing a win to close the series. Dynamo tried to regain home-court advantage Friday and looked poised to win after building a 7-5 lead in the fourth quarter. However, the visitors regrouped and scored twice to tie the game in regulation, 7-7. In the penalty shootout Sintez was luckier and won 9-8.

The finals will open in Kazan on April 8.

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