FM WU18 BULvsRUS (10)

A member of the Kobzar family captained Russia to the podium of the men’s volleyball tournament at the Tokyo Olympics last month. And another is aiming to lead the European nation to glory at the 2021 FIVB Volleyball Girls’s U18 World Championship in Durango, Mexico, this week.

The younger sister of international star and Olympic medallist Igor, 16-year-old Viktoriia is the captain of the undefeated Russian team competing in the tournament in Mexico, and one of its most important players.

The siblings are just continuing a volleyball tradition in their family. Their father, Andrey, played professionally in their country, while their mother, Alla, coached at the youth level, including with the Russian national team.

“Our family is just very proud of us,” the 1.83m-tall Viktoriia said. “I grew up watching Igor playing and still do it as much as I can to this day. We’re always together and he also tries to watch me play whenever he has a chance. It’s a really nice relationship we have, we’re very close.”

Kobzar is running Russia's offense in the tournament

Kobzar is running Russia's offense in the tournament

Two things that bring the Kobzars even closer are the facts that they’re both setters and captains of their teams. Viktoriia, who won bronze at this year’s U20 World Championship and gold at the 2020 U18 European Championship, recognizes and appreciates the privilege of having one of the best setters in the world as a mentor.

“He helps me a lot,” she reflected. “We talk a lot about setting and just the game of volleyball in general as we love the sport. It’s very helpful to have someone like him to guide me and someone I know I can always count on.”

Kobzar and her Russian teammates return to the court in Durango on Sunday, for their Round of 16 matchup with Puerto Rico.