One day to go before the 34th Montreux Masters! Here’s five things that we should look out for in Day 1 of this quick tournament.
1) Who will be playing?
All but one team have not yet released their competition roster. Therefore, there is still uncertainty whether the top players of the eight participating nations will see action in Switzerland. At least, we know that Nootsara Tomkom and Pleumjit Thinkaow will be suiting up for Thailand. But what about Zhu Ting for China? Or Paola Egonu and Miryam Sylla for Italy?
Given that its so close to the first leg of the Volleyball Nations League 2019, the federations can do two things. First, they can let their best players sit out Montreux and focus on the VNL. Second, use this six-day competition as tune-up for the bigger and longer tournament.
Wise thinking would lean on the latter to avoid injury or burnout. That leaves more questions than answers on who will suit up for their country. We’ll all be surprised of who’s playing until the official Montreux Masters websites reveal the team composition.
The Japanese would want to settle the score against the Chinese. After all, it was the defending Olympic champions that dashed their gold medal hopes in last year’s Asian Games. Zhu Ting had 18 points in that game while Li Yingying and Yu Xinyue added 13 and ten, respectively.
Meanwhile, Yuki Ishii paced Japan with 14 while Ai Kurogo contributed ten. However, we’re not sure yet if the players mentioned will even play in Montreux. Regardless of who plays, the Japanese have a lot of catching up to do with China’s talent level and technique. That’s what being swept and scoring only ten points in a single set should do for you.
3) Who will coach Switzerland?
It’s unfortunate that head coach Timo Lippuner decided to leave his post after the European Championship. With her sights set on the bigger competition, it’s unsure whether he will coach the Montreux Masters squad as well.
At just 27 years old, Lippuner became a part of the Switzerland women’s national team in 2007 as assistant coach. He was appointed top mentor seven years later. Aside from coaching the Swiss, he also took charge of Rote Raben Vilsbiburg in the Bundesliga, making him one of the few Swiss coaches that have handled a team overseas.
It was under his helm that Switzerland qualified in EuroVolley for the first time. They secured their spot after finishing second to Croatia in Pool B. Montreux would be a good tournament to see what needs tinkering in time for the European Championship from August 23 to September 8.
4) Will jet lag prevail?
Unless they are playing within the same continent, athletes have to deal with the change in hours come international competitions. Whether that will have an effect or not remains to be seen. Japan and China will play at 1645H which is around 1:45 am Japan time and roughly 12:45 am China time.
Same goes for Thailand who will play defending champions Italy at 1915H or 2:15 am Thai time. It’s a good thing that the Thais have arrived days before the tournament, giving them time to adjust and acclimatize. But playing at an unusual time could manifest in the game.
5) Who will Italy field?
There is still no word on who will play for the defending Montreux Masters champions. But there have been speculations that Egonu, Sylla, and the other top guns for Italy will sit this one out. While winning it all again would be great, the VNL would start three days after this tournament ends.
There has been speculation that Terry Enweonwu and Josephine Obossa will fill in for Egonu at opposite hitter. Meanwhile, Sylvia Nwakalor and Indre Sorokaite will take Sylla’s spot at open spiker. Sara Alberti and Beatrice Berti could be the middle blockers, not Anna Danesi and Cristine Chirichella.
Alessia Orro and Francesca Bosio are rumored to be part of the Montreux squad too as setters. Finally, Chiara De Bortoli and Beatrice Parrocchiale will take turns at libero. Will this squad be enough to defend the crown? The path to which starts when they face Thailand in the final game of Day 1.