Exactly eight months before it hosts VFR and Tunisia in the opening match of the FIVB Volleyball Men's World Championship Russia 2022, the Ice Palace in St. Petersburg will set the scene for the Russian Cup Final Four. It will be the first time that volleyball is staged at the arena, which was built to host the Ice Hockey World Championships in 2000.

The Russian Cup Final Four event will serve as a test event ahead of next year's Men's World Championship, with many facets of organisation to be tested including logisitcs, the placement of services in the arena, the organisation of broadcasts, post-match interviews and more.

The sporting goal of the event, of course, will be to determine the winners of the Russian Cup, one of the most prestigious trophies in Russian volleyball.

Four of the top clubs in the country will compete for the trophy including Lokomotiv Novosibirsk, Zenit Kazan, Zenit St. Petersburg and current Cup holders Dynamo Moscow. The tournament will take place over just two days from December 25 to 26, but is sure to be a fierce battle. Three of the four finalists have already won the competition, while the fourth will be playing in front of their fans in St. Petersburg.

Zenit St. Petersburg's support is likely to be strong: their fans are used to supporting their team at different arenas including the Sibur Arena or at Platonov's Volleyball Academy.

In the semifinals, Zenit will take on longstanding rivals Dynamo Moscow, who they lost to in last year's Russian Cup, CEV Cup and Russian Superleague. Zenit had a difficult start in this season's Russian championship, but they are looking much improved with Viktor Poletaev back from injury, Egor Kliuka back to playing his favourite position as an outside hitter and Tine Urnaut now starting to show his game.

Dynamo Moscow probably have the most difficult task – to defend their title. Their last three Russian Superleague matches were nervous affairs. In matches in Ufa and Nizhnevartovsk, Dynamo won after going two sets down. And in a home game against ASK, Dynamo lost 1:3 and failed to pick up any points. All in all, the semifinal looks like a cracker.

In the second semifinal, Zenit Kazan, who won the Russian Cup from 2014 to 2019, will take on Lokomotiv, who won the title in 2010 and 2011. The teams coached by Alexei Verbov and Plamen Konstantinov currently occupy first and second place in the Superleague, and they have only one defeat each. Zenit won the face-to-face between the two.

As of Saturday, December 25, fans will get to see some of the best players in the world in action: Egor Kliuka, Viktor Poletaev, Ivan Yakovlev and Jenia Grebennikov will meet Tsvetan Sokolov, Denis Bogdan, Lauri Kerminen and Yaroslav Podlesnykh. Micah Christenson will go up against rising star setter Konstantin Abaev, Maxim Mikhailov will face Drazen Luburic. It promises to be a great tournament and one not to be missed!