The Russian team from Yekaterinburg, Russia, a city of 1.5 million residents on the east end of the Ural Mountains, has earned the right to return to the Russian SuperLeague, thanks to a 1st-place finish in the country’s Second-Tier, the “Major League A” or “Supreme League A,” depending on which translation you prefer. This brings top-flight men’s volleyball back to Russia’s 4th-largest city for the first time since the 2011-2012 season, marking a 6-year absence.
The city’s women’s team, Uralochka, has been a fixture in the women’s SuperLeague, holding the record for most titles (14), and having finished as the league runner-up as recently as 2015-2016. The men’s team, known as Lokomotiv-Izumrud (not to be confused with SuperLeague side Lokomotiv Novosibirsk) however, has been mired in the lower tiers of Russian volleyball, that is until late March where they secured top-of-the-table and promotion with still 2 games left to play.
A 3-1 win over Dagestan secured their promotion, and Uralochka finished their season with a 3-0 sweep of Novogrod.
In spite of their absence, Lokomotiv has a history in the SuperLeague. They were the league’s champions in 1999, and finished in the top 2 for a 5-year stretch from 1997 through 2001.
The team had a dominant performance in 2017-2018, finishing with 101 points – 15 better than Dinamo Chelyabinsk, the next-best team. That includes a 110-32 sets ratio and an overall record of 35 wins and just 5 losses.
Currently, Major League “B” runners-up Dinamo Chelyabinsk are playing in a transitional tournament against Dinamo-LO, Yaroslavich, and Yugra-Samotlor for the right to play in the SuperLeague. After one round, Dinamo-LO and Yaroslavich are ranked 1st and 2nd, while Dinamo-Chelyabinsk and SuperLeague side Yugra-Samotlor are ranked 3rd and 4th. Yugra-Samotlor, going pointless in the first round, is almost guaranteed of demotion.
Meanwhile, Transgaz-Stavropol will be demoted to the Major League B next season after being swept 2 games to none in the transitional tournament by Tyumen, champions of Major League B.