There’s just two preliminary weeks left in the FIVB Volleyball Nations League 2019. Those who are at the middle of the pack should make a push in Weeks 4 and 5 to salvage a Final Six spot. Meanwhile, those at the top would like to solidify their slots to the next round. Here’s how we rank the performances of all 16 teams in Week 3 of VNL 2019.
Teams that need improvement
16) Bulgaria (last week: #15) – They are still looking for their first win in the tournament and the results for Week 3 are not helping. They only scored nine points in one set against Turkey. Meanwhile, the two sets they’ve won in three games were both extended. They won a 27-25 in the first set against Thailand and 31-29 in the third versus the Dominican Republic.
15) Netherlands (last week: #10) – It’s the first week that the Dutch have been shut off from victory. They scored only 13 points in the opening frame against Italy. The Netherlands only breached the 20-point mark once out of the sets they’ve lost. Two of their losses were in straight sets.
14) South Korea (last week: #13) – Kim Yeonkoung finally played but it was not a big help. The Koreans took just one set all week and they did not put up much resistance against China. After scoring 21 points in the first set against their Asian rivals, they only had a combined 23 in the next two.
13) Russia (last week: #16) – There was slight improvement for the Russians. However, they still did not translate to wins. But they were one set away from winning against Poland. Unfortunately, the Poles edged them in five. Russia also took one set against Serbia, 25-22. They were not as fortunate against Belgium but the score was close (22-25, 20-25, 22-25).
12) Japan (last week: #2) – What a reversal for the Japanese. They only came up with one victory after taking all three last week. As impressive their victory against the Netherlands is, Kumi Nakada’s crew can’t do the same against China and Italy. The Chinese just edged them in the first set, 27-25.
11) Thailand (last week: #12) – They almost had two wins if they only edged the Dominicans in the fifth set. The Thais could have even won in three sets if sets one and three turned to their favor. Thailand lost both in extension, 31-29 and 30-28. They also squeaked past Bulgaria in four sets.
Staying at the middle
10) Dominican Republic (last week: #8) – The Dominicans defeated Bulgaria after their five-set survival over Thailand. However, they allowed the Bulgarians to score 20, 21, and 20 points in the sets they’ve won. Marcos Kwiek’s squad lost to Turkey in four sets to open the week.
9) Serbia (last week: #9) – It’s odd to see the reigning world champions this low in the rankings. But they’ve played mainly with their second stringers and have enjoyed modest success. They still won against Poland and Russia in VNL 2019 Week 3. Their loss to Belgium is something out of left field.
8) Germany (last week: #14) – This week’s biggest jumpers outlasted Brazil in five sets. Louisa Lippmann had a fine performance with 30 points while Hanna Orthmann added 19. Sadly, they couldn’t replicate their success against the United States. The Germans closed the week with a three-set triumph over the Koreans. It’s their first two-win week in the VNL.
7) Belgium (last week: #11) – Talk about a dark horse in the competition. The Belgians are still in the mix of things after a 2-1 week. That straight-set victory over Serbia was a surprise and Britt Herbots is emerging as their leader. Their loss to Poland robbed them of a sixth win.
6) Poland (last week: #3) – One loss dropped them three spots in the rankings. But it came against a Serbian squad that did not have its best players. After an extended first set which ended 27-25 for the Serbians, the Poles came up short in sets two and three by scoring 21 and 22 points respectively.
Best teams of the week
5) United States (last week: #4) – Brazil proved to be the only legitimate challenge for the Americans at home. They disposed South Korea in four sets and Germany in three. Their second loss in the tournament came at the hands of the Brazilians. USA averaged a little under 19 points in the sets they lost.
4) Brazil (last week: #7) – It would have been a disastrous week if not for the win over the Americans. Gabi Guimaraes was a thorn for the USA that match. The Brazilians could have won all three matches if they edged Germany in the fifth set. That would have placed them in a five-way tie for the second spot.
3) Italy (last week: #5) – Their game against China lived up to the hype. It was just like their 2018 World Championship semifinal match that went five sets. Unfortunately, the Italians were at the losing end this time despite winning the first two sets. Italy still finished Week 3 with wins over the Dutch and the Japanese.
2) Turkey (last week: #6) – Giovanni Guidetti’s squad is just one of two undefeated teams this round. The Turks dropped only one set which went 26-24 for the Dominicans. Other than that, it was smooth sailing for the current VNL 2019 leaders. Ebrar Karakurt is performing well once again after a down week.
1) China (last week: #1) – Make that seven straight wins for the Chinese in the FIVB Volleyball Nations League 2019. That come-from-behind win over Italy alone makes them worthy of the top spot. But their three-set triumphs over the Netherlands and Japan strengthens their case.