Italy’s loss to Canada pushes Brazil and Iran to Finals Six, and five teams in pursuit for 3 remained spots. In addition to the host national team of the USA, Brazil and Iran have secured their spots in the Final Six that will play in Chicago, Illinois, at the and of Day 1 of the last week in the Preliminary Round.
By beating Australia in front of their crowd in Brisbane in Pool 17, Russia are only one step away from the Final Six. Despite arriving at a hotel 23 hours before the match, and after traveling for 42 hours, they swept the rivals in straight sets (25:20, 25:15, 25:18) and remained unbeaten against Australia at major world level tournaments (13-0). Russia are third-placed in the standings with a 11-3 score and 31 points, and need one more victory to secure a spot in the Final Six. Denis Zemchenok scored 15 points for the winning side.
Russian opposite Denis Zemchenok said it was a tougher match than the 3-0 score line suggested. “It looked like it was easy at three nil but it wasn’t because both teams made a lot of mistakes. I think it’s all about the long trips, we came from Brazil and Australia travelled from Iran. We want to play better volleyball tomorrow.”
Australian coach Mark Lebedew was disappointed with the performance of his side. “I felt that it wasn’t really our best performance. We can certainly play better than that, independent of who is on the other side of the net. We should have been energised by being at home and we weren’t. We have to talk about some things and play better against China.”
On the same Pool, Argentina won their 7th match in this years FIVB Volleyball Nations League with a 3-1 victory over China.
Captain Nicolas Mendez said it set his team up well for tomorrow’s match against the defending champions Russia. “I think it was a really good performance, this team is improving in every match. I hope this continues. We feel really good, we have now won seven matches so far in this VNL, it’s a really strong tournament and I hope tomorrow we can beat Russia.“
China coach Raul Lozano said his side failed to capitalise on getting back into the match after winning the second set. “One set is not enough, we started slowly, we changed the attitude and atmosphere on the court in the second set and we began to play well. We needed to maintain that level in the third and fourth sets. Argentina is a team who plays quick, we will need to change our strategies for Russia and Australia.”
Even before the match against France in Pool 18, Brazil had a ticket for the Final Six in their pocket, because Italy succumbed to Canada in the previous encounter in the same pool. Nevertheless, Brazil did not want to disappoint 7,500 own fans at the Ginásio Nilson Nelson in the country’s capital of Brasília and recorded the sixth consecutive victory in the tournament: 3-1 (23:25, 25:18, 25:23, 25:23). So, the they sealed the top spot in the standings with 12 victory and one defeat (33 points). Yoandy Leal was the top scorer for Brazil with 15 points, while Maurício Souza and Flávio Gualberto made 4 winning blocks each. On the other hand, France (No.4 at the moment, 9-4 and 28 points) will have to beat both Italy and Canada in the continuation of the last week to advance to the Finals.
On the same Pool, Italy perfectly opened the match against Canada but have fallen in the next three to reduce their chances of going to the Final Six to a really minimum. Now, these two teams leveled in the standings with a win-loss ratio of 8-5 but with Italy having two points more (25) and being one place in front of Canada in the standings at the sixth position. Now, both teams need to win the two remaining matches to have a little chance of qualifying to the Finals. Stephen Maar led Canada to a 3-1 (15:25, 25:20, 25:22, 25:18) victory over Italy.
Iran are also confirmed their partecipation in the Final Six after beating Serbia in Pool 19 in Varna (Bulgaria) by a 3-1 (25:23, 26:28, 25:22, 25:19). Led by their best scorer in the tournament, and from this match the best-ever scorer in the Nations League Amir Ghafour, they reached 11-2 record and 33 points to settle at the No.2 in the standings. Ghafour scored 25 points against Serbia to set a 200-point milestone in the 2019 VNL (207 points). He surpassed Milad Ebadipour’s total of 193 points in the last year’s edition of the tournament. Seyed Mousavi also contributed with 4 winning blocks.
On the same Pool, Bulgaria played an amazing match beating USA in four sets.
Thanks to Italy’s loss to Canada, Poland overtook their place in the charts as they beat Japan by a 3-1 (22:25, 25:19, 27:25, 25:20) in Pool 20 in Leipzig (Germany). Poland are now at No.5 with a 9-4 record and 24 points. Maciej Muzaj scored 16 points including 4 winning blocks for Poland who are in a five-match winning streak.
Reactions: Polish coach Vital Heynen: “We had problems with our block in the first set. But we started to make it better after that. But the real reason for our victory were the strong nerves of our players in the decisive moments. We had a lot of really tough matches in this year’s Volleyball Nations League and we won nearly all of them. These experiences are very important, especially for our young players. This was a very important victory for us, we hope to make it to the finals in Chicago.”
Japanese captain Masahiro Yanagida: “We had a really good start in the match. But then the Polish team started to block better and we couldn’t completely adapt. Then we were unlucky with a video challenge in the final stages of set number 3 and we lost the whole match. These small things are very important in volleyball and we have to work to make it better in the future.”
On the same Pool, the hosts of Germany defeat Portugal in four sets.
2019 FIVB Volleyball Nations League, Week 5 – Day 1
POOL 17 – Brisbane, Australia
Australia-Russia 0-3 (25:20, 25:15, 25:18)
Argentina-China 3-1 (25:17, 20:25, 25:21, 25:19)
POOL 18 – Brasilia, Brazil
Italy-Canada 1-3 (25:15, 20:25, 22:25, 18:25)
Brazil-France 3-1 (23:25, 25:18, 25:23, 25:23)
POOL 19 – Varna, Bulgaria
Bulgaria-USA 3-1 (21:25, 25:19, 25:23, 25:23)
Iran-Serbia 3-1 (25:23, 26:28, 25:22, 25:19)
POOL 20 – Leipzig, Germany
Poland-Japan 3-1 (22:25, 25:19, 27:25, 25:20)
Germany-Portugal 3-1 (28:26, 20:25, 25:10, 25:24)
Source and Photos: volleyball.world