Week 1 of the FIVB Volleyball Nations League is in the books. The frontrunners would like to keep the momentum as they face new teams. Meanwhile, the cellar dwellers are looking to string together some victories against new opposition. Here’s how every team has done going into VNL Week 2.
Teams that need the most improvement
16) South Korea – They definitely miss Kim Yeonkoung. The Koreans have won only one set so far and have the worst point ratio at 0.786. If there’s any consolation, the opposition moving forward might be easier because they have faced Turkey, Serbia, and the Netherlands already. Heejin Kim and Seungjo Pyo have been bright spots for Stefano Lavarini.
15) Germany – The Germans are winless in three matches. However, four of the sets they lost were extended while another one went 23-25 for Poland. They also dropped a 22-25 set against Thailand. They have been fighting only to come up short at the end. Louisa Lippmann has been their best scorer and blocker so far.
14) Bulgaria – Another team that is seeking for their first win. Bowing to the Americans in three sets didn’t help their cause. But they almost won against Belgium in five sets and lost two sets versus Japan at 23-25. Miroslava Pavkova is their leading scorer and server. She is also the team’s second best digger and third best receiver.
13) Thailand – Either they win in three sets or lose in that fashion. The Thais defeated the Germans in three to open their Volleyball Nations League campaign. However, they dropped two straight against Italy and Poland, respectively. In those losses, they were dominated in kill blocks, 17-7, and attacks, 88-64.
Up and down squads
12) China – Though Russia is beneath them in the standings, we placed them here because of their loss to Vadim Pankov’s crew. They finally tallied a win when they defeated the Dominican Republic in four sets. Despite that, it’s clear that they are not the same team without their main weapons. Hanyu Yang and Liu Yanhan has been Lang Ping’s 1-2 punch so far.
11) Russia – It’s been a roller coaster campaign for the Russians so far. Losses to the Dominicans and the Brazilians sandwich their victory over the Chinese. Nataliya Goncharova’s absence is proving to be a huge factor. But they have been getting steady performances from Margarita Kurilo and Tatiana Iurinskaia.
10) Netherlands – Winning against Korea could help the Dutch string more victories together. But they have been playing poorly prior to that win. They scored only 15 points in their Set 1 loss to Serbia and only 14 in Set 2 against Turkey. Tijana Boskovic made them pay by tallying 25 points while Hande Baladin scored 21 for the Turks.
9) Japan – The Japanese scored 20 points or more in all but one set. They only made 18 points in the deciding fourth set against Belgium. However, two of the sets they took against Bulgaria went 25-23. Yuki Ishii tops the squad in points, attacking efficiency, digs, and receptions. If that’s not enough, she’s also the team’s second best blocker.
Trailing by a few paces
8) Belgium – They ended Week 1 of the 2019 Volleyball Nations League with a 2-1 record. But they have lost as much sets as they’ve won. They Belgians only scored eight points in their Set 2 loss to the United States. Since then, they have taken six of the last seven sets they played. Britt Herbots is a must watch for Coach Gert Vande Broek’s crew.
7) Domincan Republic – That victory against Brazil is monumental itself. But they have limited their opponents to less than 20 points in just two sets. The deciding sets in their two wins went 28-26. However, their Set 4 loss to China ended at 23-25. They might not get enough wins moving forward if they give opponents the chance to steal sets away.
6) Serbia – Scoring only 15 points against Korea is surprising. But their straight-sets loss to Turkey with Tijana Boskovic playing is the biggest shocker of the tournament so far. They were simply not in sync during that match. The Serbians only had two great sets throughout the match and Brankica Mihajlovic only had nine points.
5) Brazil – They could have been 3-0 if not for the 26-28 squeaker by the Domincan Republic in Set 4. They also scored 20 and 22 points in the other sets they lost in that match. However, they limited the Russians to 46 total points in their three-set win. Gabriela Braga Guimaraes has been their best over-all player so far.
4) Poland – Their only loss came in a five-setter against Italy which they dropped, 15-17. They could have won the match if they can match the blocks and aces of the Italians. However, the Poles have no problems defeating the Germans and the Thais in consecutive matches. Malwina Smarzek is an emerging star from Jacek Nawrocki’s squad.
3) Italy – It’s been mostly smooth sailing for the World Championship runner-up. They demolished Thailand in three sets by dominating all scoring categories. Then, they won two extended sets to complete a three-set win over Germany. Indre Sorokaite, Elena Pietrini, and Sarah Luisa Fahr are holding the fort while their top players are out.
2) Turkey – Opponents have struggled to put a dent to the Turkish blocking wall. They average 14 stuffs per contest, including 18 against the Netherlands and 17 versus Korea. The Turks have also limited teams to 19.2 points in the nine sets they’ve won. Ebrar Karakurt may be young but her game goes beyond her age.
1) United States – They are the only team that has limited an opponent to single digits in a set. Karch Kiraly’s unit has allowed only 19.1 points in the sets they’ve taken and have dominated in attack points in all their games so far. The defending Volleyball Nations League champions are doing this while committing eight less unforced errors than Turkey.