2018 Men’s #VNL Pool 16 Preview: Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, France

2018 FIVB MEN’S VOLLEYBALL NATIONS LEAGUE – WEEK 4/POOL 16

  • June 15th-June 17th, 2018
  • Palace of Culture and Sports, Varna, Bulgaria (seating 6,000)
  • Time Zone: GMT +3 (U.S. Eastern Time +7)
  • World Rankings: #1 Brazil, #6 Canada, #9 France, #14 Bulgaria

Schedule

Date  Local Time Eastern Time Home Team Visiting Team
15-Jun 15:30 8:30 Canada  Brazil
15-Jun 18:30 11:30 Bulgaria  France
16-Jun 15:30 8:30 France  Brazil
16-Jun 18:30 11:30 Bulgaria  Canada
17-Jun 15:30 8:30 France  Canada
17-Jun 18:30 11:30 Bulgaria  Brazil

Standings

There are only 2 weeks left of play before the Final Round in Lille, France. While France already has their spot secured by virtue of being the hosts, they have put together an impressive record so far at 7-2 with 22 points including a 3-0 finish last weekend. The 2017 FIVB World League gold medalists are poised to make a run at the medal stand.

Brazil continues to build upon their success. Their 8-1 record and 23 points puts them near the top of the table. They trail Poland due to sets ratio at this point, but they are in great shape to qualify for the Final Round. Even a loss to France would not drop them out of the qualification range.

Canada sits just outside of qualification at 8th place. They are just a single match behind Serbia, the team sitting in 6th (they are level at 15 points). After going 1-2 last weekend, the biggest problem they face this week is their tough pool. They open the weekend with Brazil on Friday and finish up with France. They will need Russia, Serbia, and Italy to each lost multiple matches if they are to move up in the standings, which is unlikely.

Bulgaria is not mathematically eliminated from the Final Round, but stealing multiple wins this weekend at home will be difficult. They will return some players into the roster from injury and rest, but they will need a lot of help in addition to their wins to get into contention to play in Lille.

Matches Pts Sets Points
Rank Team W L W L Ratio W L Ratio
1
 Poland
8 1 23 25 7 3.571 775 665 1.165
2
 Brazil
8 1 23 26 8 3.25 800 724 1.105
3
 France
7 2 22 23 9 2.556 776 671 1.156
4
 United States
7 2 20 23 13 1.769 818 746 1.097
5
 Russia
6 3 19 21 11 1.909 763 712 1.072
6
 Serbia
6 3 15 18 17 1.059 776 764 1.016
7
 Italy
5 4 16 20 16 1.25 813 789 1.03
8
 Canada
5 4 15 18 15 1.2 755 753 1.003
9
 Germany
4 5 13 16 18 0.889 758 762 0.995
10
 Japan
4 5 11 15 21 0.714 784 813 0.964
11
 Iran
3 6 9 15 20 0.75 791 812 0.974
12
 Bulgaria
3 6 9 14 21 0.667 753 800 0.941
13
 Argentina
2 7 8 14 21 0.667 772 823 0.938
14
 Australia
2 7 6 11 23 0.478 715 804 0.889
15
 China
2 7 6 9 23 0.391 667 751 0.888
16
 South Korea
0 9 1 2 27 0.074 588 715 0.822

Pool Preview

Most fans will be looking at the France – Brazil match as the highlight of this pool. Here you have the winners of both of the FIVB tournaments form 2017. France won the gold medal in the World League while Brazil were champions of the Grand Champions Cup. This match might not mean too much, as both teams are quite secure in their advancement into the Final Round. Both teams might choose to rest some of their stars to get ready for Lille, France and the World Championships.

Canada has a lot to fight for. While the task of beating France and Brazil is quite daunting, they have the potential to return to the form which won them a bronze medal in last year’s World League. At this point they have introduced most of their big players back into the lineup at this tournament. It will be interesting to see the lineup they put on the floor. What must be concerning for Canadian fans is that they have not beaten a team higher than 7th in the standings at this point. There is a real possibility they slide a bit further down the table of they do not have a big weekend.

Bulgaria has a roster full of talent but has fallen victim to some injuries this year. It will be quite difficult for them to move back into contention for the Final Round. Their match with Canada has the potential to be a tightly contested match, but it would not be surprising if they dropped even further down the standings.

 

Storylines and Players to Watch:

  • Brazil: As much as people might try to find some vulnerability with this Brazilian team they show why they are continually at the top of the world rankings.  While they will be without Maurício Souza is out with an abdominal injury,  Isac Santos and Lucas Saatkamp are some of the best middle blockers in the world.  They are 3rd and 4th respectively on their team in scoring with 59 and 56 points. Wallace De Souza is having a stellar tournament thus far. He is 2nd in scoring with 141 points, 3rd in attacking with a 54.07% success rate, and is the top server with 0.38 aces per set. Doulgas Souza had some strong outings last weekend at the outside hitter position. This included 22 points against Iran in a 3-2 win and 13 points in a 3-1 victory over Russia.
  • Bulgaria:  The big news coming out of the Bulgarian camp is the return of their setter, Georgi Bratoev. While he is not expected to start on Friday (Georgi Seganov will be running the floor), it will be interesting to see if he is utilized after his injury just 2 weeks ago. Todor Skrimov will be back in the lineup for Bulgaria. The outside hitter, who signed in Italy with Vibo Valentia earlier in the week, has scored 56 points in limited action thus far. Nikolay Uchikov has led the way for Bulgaria with 129 points on 111 kills, 8 blocks, and 10 aces. He is 6th on the list of the best scorers in this competition.
  • Canada: Stephen Marr has been leading the team throughout the tournament. The outside hitter who signed with Milano has scored 128 points in the competition. He sits at 7th on the list of top scorers. Graham Vigrass has put up 85 points in the middle for Canada, and he is the 10th-best blocker so far with 0.45 blocks per set. The biggest story to watch for this weekend is the utilization of Gavin Schmitt. The opposite came out of retirement from the national team last weekend and was used sparingly while scoring 5 points. It will be interesting to see if he plays a greater role this weekend when the stakes are higher.
  • France:  Kevin LeRoux will be making his debut in the Volleyball Nations League this weekend. They will essentially have their best starting lineup available for this weekend, though they have their sights set on week 5 when they play Italy, Russia, and the United States. Stephen Boyer has led the scoring for France with 110 points on 100 kills and 10 blocks. Kevin Tille is next in terms of offensive production with 76 points, while Earvin N’Gapeth has scored 61 points at this point in the tournament.

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