Europe’s elite teams have arrived to Ankara to battle for one Olympic berth in the Women’s European Qualifier. Which team has the best chance to secure their ticket to Rio?
All eyes in Europe will turn to Ankara from January 4-9 when the best European teams fight to win the ticket to Rio. Eight teams divided into two pools of four will begin the rivalry and only two teams from each pool will advance to the semis. There is only one Olympic spot to be given, with runner up and the third team securing spot at the World Olympic Qualification Tournament in Japan in May and June 2016. The remaining five teams will finish their road to Rio right there in Ankara.
So who is up for the challenge? Let’s have a look at the teams from pool B. How was their 2015 season, who is their star player to lead them in the qualifier? And most importantly – what are their chances to get to the semi-finals?
FIVB Ranking: 25th
CEV Ranking: 8th
2015 Formline: Poland continued their World Grand Prix campaign in Group 2, recording a better result than in 2014, but missed the ticket to Group 1 losing against The Netherlands during the Final Four. It was the Dutch team who also stopped Poland in the quarterfinals at European Championship.
Star Player: Katarzyna Skowronska-Dolata – one of the best opposites in the world. Double European Champion (2003, 2005), triple Champions League bronze medalist and eight times league champion. After a decade of playing in Italy, Turkey, China and Azerbaijan she returned to Poland to play in Impel Wroclaw team.
Predicted Pool Finish: 4th
Poland was drawn into a strong pool with Russia, Italy and Belgium. Giving the results of the team and Poland’s rivals from the past season, we suspect the result to be the same…
FIVB Ranking: 15th
CEV Ranking: 7th
2015 Formline: Belgium’s debut in World Grand Prix Group 1 ended wit 10th place and only 2 victories. The Yellow Tigers reached European Championship quarterfinals to eventually lose 1-3 to Serbia.
Star Player: Lise Van Hecke – one of the rising starts of Belgian and European volleyball. She began her club career in Asterix Kieldrecht, in 2011 she moved to Italy where she played for Urbino Volley and River Piacenza. Recently Van HEcke is playing for Brazilian Vôlei Nestlé Osasco.
Predicted Pool Finish: 3rd
The Yellow Tigers work hard to join the world elite, but at this point in time their young talents, including Lise Van Hecke, might not be enough to defeat Russia and Italy…
FIVB Ranking: 8th
CEV Ranking: 2nd
2015 Formline: After finishing 4th in World Grand Prix Group 1 pool round, Italy didn’t get as much success during the Final Six, ending at the 5th spot. At EuroVolley, Italians faced Russians in the quarter finals, losing 1-3…
Star Player:Lucia Bosetti – wing spiker, one of the leaders of team Italy. After over a decade spent in Italian Serie A, Bosetti mvoed to Fenerbahce where last year she has won every possible league title. Rio 2016 would be Bosetti’s second Olympic Games performance after representing her country in London 2012.
Predicted Pool Finish: 2nd
Italians have a strong claim to reach semi-finals. Will they be able to pass through Russia? We expect similar result to EuroVolley quarter final and a 2nd spot in pool B.
FIVB Ranking: 4th
CEV Ranking: 1st
2015 Formline: The World Grand Prix silver medal was meant to be a forecast before the World Cup, yet none of the WGP medalists managed to win an Olympic berth in Japan. the Russians finished fourth in Japan, but stormed in EuroVolley recording only one loss (0-3 to Croatia in a pool round) and claimed the crow for the second time in a row.
Star Player: Nataliya Obmochaeva – one of the most powerful opposites in the world. World Champion 2010 and double European champion (2013, 2015). After Ekaterina Gamova’s departure, Obmochaeva became a leader of the team as their main scorer. She has spent her career thus far in one club – Dinamo Moscow.
Predicted Pool Finish: 1st
Despite missing medal at the World Cup, Russia maintained their high level. EuroVolley performance only confirmed their position as the strongest team in Europe. They are the main favorite not only to win pool B, but the entire qualifier.