2018 Men’s #VNL Pool 8 Preview: Poland Hosts China, France & Germany

2018 FIVB MEN’S VOLLEYBALL NATIONS LEAGUE – WEEK 2/POOL 8

  • June 1st-June 3rd, 2018
  • Łódź, Poland | Atlas Arena (Capacity: 13,805)
  • Time Zone: Central European Summer Time (UTC +2)
  • World Rankings: #3 Poland, #9 France, #10 Germany #20 China

SCHEDULE

Date Time Score Set 1 Set 2 Set 3 Set 4 Set 5 Total Report
1 Jun 16:00 France 0–0
1 Jun 19:00 Germany 0–0
2 Jun 16:00 China 0–0
2 Jun 19:00 France 0–0
3 Jun 16:00 Germany 0–0
3 Jun 19:00 China 0–0

STANDINGS

In terms of intrigue to the standings, Pool 8 has teams scattered around with different visions and goals of what they can accomplish this week to their overall picture.

It gets started at the very top, where the #1 and #2 teams through three matches are in the same pool in Poland and France. Another 3-0 week from one of the two would put them in fantastic positioning, while even a 2-1 week would put them in firm footing to make the final round. Of course, the record doesn’t matter to France, who will be hosting the elimination round and henceforth in the playoffs regardless.

Behind the top two are China and Germany. The Asian side are coming off of a 1-2 week, meaning they need a 2-1 week or better to balance it out, but still aren’t too far out of the final round picture. That would be pushed back with a 1-2 week. Germany meanwhile is looking to get off the schneid in trying to avoid the bottom of the standings. It really is a different story for why each team is looking for success this week in the pool.

MATCHES PTS SETS POINTS
Rank Team W L W L Ratio W L Ratio
1 Poland* 3 0 9 9 1 9.000 247 207 1.193
2 France* 3 0 9 9 2 4.500 280 237 1.181
3 Italy 3 0 8 9 3 3.000 280 236 1.186
4 United States 3 0 8 9 3 3.000 288 253 1.138
5 Brazil 2 1 7 8 3 2.667 252 246 1.024
6 Russia 2 1 6 6 3 2.000 215 194 1.108
7 Japan 2 1 6 7 5 1.400 284 268 1.060
8 Bulgaria 2 1 5 7 6 1.167 279 280 0.996
9 China* 1 2 4 5 6 0.833 233 239 0.975
10 Iran 1 2 3 5 6 0.833 256 269 0.952
11 Canada 1 2 3 4 6 0.667 219 229 0.956
12 Serbia 1 2 3 3 7 0.429 217 227 0.956
13 Argentina 0 3 1 3 9 0.333 256 284 0.901
14 Germany* 0 3 0 2 9 0.222 229 269 0.851
15 Australia 0 3 0 1 9 0.111 213 259 0.822
16 South Korea 0 3 0 0 9 0.000 177 228 0.776

POOL PREVIEW

It’s no secret that the Pool 8 discussion begins with the two 3-0 teams in Poland and France. Maybe the separating factor is the world ranking or the home court advantage, which both favor Poland. Don’t discount the French side though, who won the 2017 FIVB World League.

Most likely the meeting between the two on June 1 – the very first match of the pool for both – could wind up determining who wins the pool and has an even better overall mark headed into week three. That should be quite the match, as both teams boast all kinds of balance and Poland’s powerful block will meet the potent attack of France. If we look at betting lines on BetDSI to try and diagnose what the view is, we see Poland is a favorite at -175, while France is +125. That means that Poland is expected to win, but it could easily switch.

China could interfere with Poland and France’s quest to finish 1-2 in the pool, especially if Chuan Jiang has an explosive performance. The lack of balance and effective serving though will likely keep China from the top half of the pool, but if they can find a secondary and tertiary option and get more aggressive serving they could be a factor.

The German side could also play spoiler to a team here or there. Don’t let the 0-3 record fool you, because Germany was in a tough pool that featured FIVB’s #1 and #4 teams in Brazil and Italy. A loss to Serbia doesn’t sit quite as well in terms of their ranking (#11), but the Serbian side is better than that shows after making the Final Six in last year’s FIVB World League. So although an 0-3 start probably will keep Germany from reaching the playoffs, they could definitely be a team who upsets one of their opponents this week and throws a wrench in the overall standings.

A good guess overall for the Pool 8 table would just be for Poland/France at one and two (in either order) and China/Germany at three and four (in either order), albeit the pool standings don’t matter in the grand scheme of the overall table.

STORIES TO WATCH:

  • China – 23-year-old opposite spiker Chuan Jiang has been a revelation as a young go-to-option for China. He leads the team in spikes (50) and points (56), with the latter ranking second in the entire Volleyball Nations League. He will be fun to watch again, but for China to improve overall as a team they will need just that. Team play. No other player on China notched more than 18 spikes or 25 points in week one, so they need more balance.
  • France – Plenty of options to strike in attack makes France deadly, and although Stephen Boyer leads the team in spikes (32) and points (37), they can beat you with several different players. Earvin Ngapeth (27 spikes, 28 points) seems to always have his best moments in big matches, so it will be fun to see how many kills he rips down against Poland in a match of 3-0 teams.
  • Germany – Germany’s 0-3 week doesn’t necessarily show how competitive they can be, as they lost to Brazil, Serbia and Italy to open up. They’ll need to increase their level of play, but they have a good start with Tobias Kirk, who ranks fifth in the VNL in blocks per set (0.64). However, Germany needs to find more success on the offensive side of the court to complement that strong block. More success with aces and in the serve wouldn’t hurt either.
  • Poland – The Polish side has shown great balance thus far with eight players in double-digit scoring through three matches. That balance really is representative all around the court, maybe most notably in the block. Michael Kubiak leads the team in blocks per set (0.60), spikes (26) and scoring (35 points), but even if a team can slow him, they will have plenty of others ready to step up.

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