In a re-run of last year’s finals, Spartak Volgograd defeated Sintez Kazan in Saturday’s decider of the best-of-three series, claiming its 12th championship. The winningest team in the post-Soviet era of Russian water polo continued to dominate the sport and captured its eighth title in a row.
In the April 8 opener in Kazan, Nikolai Lazarev went on a scoring romp hitting the hosts’ net six times as he paved the way for Spartak’s victory, 11-8. The win set the scene for a potential sweep as the defending champions were determined to wrap it all up in Game 2 in Volgograd. Sintez, however, put up a fight and challenged Spartak in its own pool. Midway through the game the score was tied, 3-3, and in the third period the visitors locked their goal while scoring three on the other end. The gap proved too big as Spartak only managed to trim it down to two goals, 5-7.
Saturday’s Game 3 thus turned into a winner-takes-it-all affair with Spartak emerging victorious in a tough encounter, eventually decided by a single goal. The two teams were neck-and-neck for the greater part of the game, and the lead changed hands several times in the first two periods. In the third, Spartak went ahead and held on to the lead it until the final buzzer. Vitaly Yurchik paced the defending champs by posting a hat-trick as Spartak prevailed 9-8. Sintez Kazan’s Ivan Nagayev was the game’s top scorer with four goals.
In the third-place series, Dynamo Moscow swept Shturm 2002 in two games – 12-10 and 10-8 – to claim the bronze.