The third week of the FIVB Volleyball Nations League 2019 will happen from June 4-6. Teams on top would like to increase their lead while those at the bottom are looking to make a push. Here are the most intriguing games in Week 3 of VNL 2019. All times reflected here are GMT.
The Asian rivals go head-to-head. They are both at 4-2 and did not drop a match in Week 2. It seems like both teams will be fielding their best players especially that much is at stake. Zhu Ting and Zhang Changning will beef up the outside hitter rotation. Yan Ni and Yuan Xinyue will man the middle Gong Xiangyu play opposite. Ding Xia will steer the offense.
Japan must work around their height disadvantage against the Chinese or it’s game over. Yuki Ishii and Ai Kurogo must find a way to go around China’s blockers. Wang Mengjie can also be a headache for Kumi Nakada’s troops. Let’s see if China can put home court advantage to good use.
Turkey vs Dominican Republic – June 4, 0805H
The Dominicans have a flare for upsets. They defeated Brazil after a long while and pulled a five-set victory over the United States. Slaying the VNL 2019 leaders could be another feather in their cap. They would need great games from Brayelin Martinez and Bethania Dela Pena for that to happen.
Meanwhile, the Turks would like to re-establish their dominating net defense with Zehra Gunes and Asli Kalac. Meryem Boz will not play just in Week 3 just when she was hitting her stride. Meliha Ismailoglu and Hande Baladin will have the chance to carry the offensive load. Cansu Ozbay will still be their primary setter.
Poland has been impressive in the first six games. Malwina Smarzek has been an unstoppable force at the wing. Meanwhile, Agnieszka Kakolewska proves to be a menacing presence at the net. Jacek Nawrocki will be fielding in the same squad from VNL 2019 Week 2 and they will face a stiff challenge against the reigning world champions.
On the other hand, the Serbians are at the middle of the pack even though most of their top players will not suit up. Seems like Zoran Terzic will continue to utilize players such as Ana Bjelica and Katarina Lazovic. Playing the Poles with such line-up will be a tall order.
The Italians eliminated the Asian powerhouse from the semifinals of last year’s World Championship. However, the Japanese got some payback by defeating Davide Mazzanti’s crew in the semifinal of this year’s Montreux Masters. This game proves to be a rubber match.
There’s also additional challenge for the Japanese given that Paola Egonu, Miryam Sylla, Cristina Chirichella, and Anna Danesi will suit up. Monica de Gennaro will be joining the team as well. Elena Pietrini and Indre Sorokaite also made the trip to Hong Kong.
Netherlands vs China – June 5, 1230H
The Dutch would like to settle the score after the Chinese defeated them in straight sets during the World Championship bronze medal match. But that would be challenging given that Lonneke Sloetjes is still not joining the squad. Marrit Jasper will be team captain for Week 3.
That’s how stacked Pool 9 in Hong Kong is. The Chinese will host some of the better teams in the VNL which could be a treat for the fans. But aside from the caliber of both teams, China still remembers the grueling semifinal match against the same squad in the 2018 World Championship.
The reigning Olympic champions took the fourth set of that contest, 31-29. They also fought hard in the tiebreaker. Unfortunately, the Italians edged them, 17-15. That’s a defeat that they would like to erase. It won’t be easy though because Italy brought their full arsenal.
United States vs Brazil – June 6, 1430H
The Americans will also play on home soil against Germany and South Korea. But this match against the Brazilians could be the biggest obstacle to a sweep. No wonder USA is bringing in Jordan Larson, Kelsey Robinson, and Carli Lloyd for this pool. Their experience will be a plus for Karch Kiraly.