If Russia is to have any semblance of a chance to perform well at this year’s WCH, it will need Natalya Goncharova to play lights out, specially now that her trusted offensive partner Tatyana Kosheleva has been ruled out of the competition. Russia has underachieved greatly in its last competitions. Its win at the Rabobank Super Series, although refreshing, is not any kind of reassuring validation. Here is how Goncharova reacted to it:
“Emotions are really good. It’s great that we finished in first place. But at the same time the tournament clearly showed what we need to work on many things. There is still a lot of roughness in our game. At the moment, we have some chemistry problems. It is necessary to work hard to play better. In this regard, there is still no need to talk about satisfaction.
Personally, I have not yet played much with my teammates, specially with our setters. Because of this, I think they were hesitant to play with me. I would like to be more trusted. Still, I can’t play like I did in Holland.
We really have not played together with Evgenia Startseva for a very long time. Until we have our chemistry built, we need to work together, ahead of new games. I hope we will be able to establish this connection as soon as possible. When you play a long time with one setter and everything goes well, it’s always difficult to change to another. To do this, we need training.”
Clearly not what any coach would want to hear from his star player. However, Vadim Pankov was quick to put out any fires, and stated that Startseva distributed the game the way he required her to do so:
“Natalia is the leader of any team. And it is quite natural that she likes to attack more often than others and to bring in the most points. But in the Netherlands I did not set the task of overloading her. Firstly, she did not play in all games, and, secondly, I gave the assignment to the setter to distribute not only to her, but to other players as well, and especially at the first tempo.
It is clear that Goncharova will have bigger responsibilities the upcoming games, so I did not give her the maximum load of work right now. At the same time, this is an absolutely normal desire for the athlete. But that was how we were organized for this tournament. We must wait. We all know that Goncharova is our main player.”