The pool stage of the Montreux Masters 2019 is over. The battle for the semifinal spots went down the wire as six of the eight teams were still eligible to make it. In the end, two European teams and two Asian squads will compete for a shot at gold.
1) It’s hard to win with only one good player
Much like in any team sport, you need great pieces to win. That’s what Germany and Switzerland lacked in this competition. The Germans were carried by Louisa Lippmann and Hanna Orthmann through three games. But there’s not much production outside them.
Meanwhile, Switzerland relied heavily on Maja Storck’s performance. But while she scored big, she did not get the support she needed. The result? Three losses for the host team too. They do get a moral victory by taking three sets in this year’s Montreux Masters compared to zero last year.
2) China out of the competition
The defending Olympic champions are relegated to the fifth place match after the Poles defeated the Germans in four sets. That gave Poland the top spot with six match points while Japan slid to number two with five points. Unfortunately, the Chinese bowed out of medal contention.
It can be pointed out that last year’s FIVB World Championship semifinalists did not have their top guns in Montreux. Just imagine how different the result would be if they had Zhu Ting, Liu Xiaotong, and Ding Xia. Still, they gave a good fight with Li Yingying leading the way for the young squad. Likewise, they will now prepare for the Volleyball Nations League which will start in the 21st.
3) Props to Thailand
The Thais swung for the fences by bringing in their A team to Switzerland. However, this is not yet the best team they can field because Pimpichaya Kokram, Wilavan Apinyapong, and Hattaya Bamrungsuk did not suit up.
Despite that, Coach Danai Sriwatcharamaytakul’s squad had enough ammunition to win two out of three games. They defeated defending champions Italy on opening day before besting Switzerland in four sets. Thailand lost their third game but their set and point ratio were enough for a semifinal berth.
They have overwhelmed their opponents with their quick pace in attacks. Nootsara Tomkom has been successful in making plays for Onuma Sittirak, Malika Kanthong, and Pleumjit Thinkaow. However, she would have to activate Chatchu-on Moksri and Ajcharaporn Kongyot as well for them to fight for gold.
4) Tough luck for Turkey
It was still a good tournament for Turkey. They defeated Switzerland in their first game and bowed to Italy in the second. The Turks edged the Thais in four sets but gave up 21 and 24 points in the last two sets. That’s why they will face China for fifth place even though they had the same standing and set ratio with Italy and Thailand.
5) Italy still in the hunt for back-to-back
There was cause for concern when Italy lost to Thailand on opening day. But they climbed back in the competition by defeating Turkey and Switzerland, respectively. They also got assistance from the Turks who can’t defeat the Thais convincingly.
Only Ofelia Malinov is part of this squad that was in the starting rotation of last year’s FIVB World Championship runner-up team. But that lack of top talent did not deter the Italians to defend their crown.
Indre Sorokaite and Sarah Luisa Fahr have been consistent through their three games whila Lucia Bosetti provided support. Sara Alberti, Francesca Villani, and Alexandra Botesat all stepped up for Coach Davide Mazzanti as well.’
It’s scary that they found their rhythm at the right time. That should cause much concern for Japan during their semifinal showdown.