2018 FIVB Women’s Volleyball Nations League – Week 3 / Pool 11
- May 29-31, 2018
- Indoor Stadium Huamark; Bangkok, Thailand
- Time Zone: UCT + 7 (ET + 11)
- World Rankings: #2 United States, #9 Dominican Republic, #13 Germany, #16 Thailand
|Date||Time||Score||Set 1||Set 2||Set 3||Set 4||Set 5||Total||Report|
|29 May||15:05||–||United States||–||–||–||0–0|
|29 May||18:05||–||Dominican Republic||–||–||–||0–0|
|30 May||15:05||–||United States||–||–||–||0–0|
|31 May||18:05||–||United States||–||–||–||0–0|
Team USA sits atop the Volleyball Nations League standings at 5-1 (16 points). The remainder of the pool has a lot of work to do if they hope to reach the finals (Top 5 teams plus host China). Thailand checks in at 2-4, while the Dominican Republic and Germany have just one win each to their credit.
The Dominican Republic has had a tough slate thus far, already facing off with top ranked China and No. 4 Brazil. Thailand took on China and No. 3 Serbia on Week 2 and No. 5 Russia on opening weekend. Germany handed Brazil its lone loss in the VNL opening match, but has fallen to Serbia, No. 5 Russia, No. 6 Japan and No. 7 Italy since.
The teams will be playing at Indoor Stadium Huamark, one of the largest arenas in women’s VNL play, seating 10,000, trailing only the finals venue. The arena was built in 1966 for the Asian Games.
After the first two weeks of VNL play, the United States sits atop the standings with a 5-1 record and 16 points. On paper, the Americans will have their lightest slate thus far with No. 9 Dominican Republic headlining their list of foes this week, having already played No. 6 Japan, No. 7 Italy and No. 8 Netherlands.
The Dominican Republic comes out of NORCECA, the same confederation as the United States, making the teams very familiar foes. At the 2017 Pan American Cup in Peru last June, Team USA won gold, besting the DR in the championship match in four sets (25-16, 19-25, 25-20, 25-23). That USA roster featured just four members of the current American VNL roster – Micha Hancock, Annie Drews, Michelle Bartsch-Hackley and Justine Wong-Orantes. Three of the DR’s top scorers in that match – Brayelin Martinez, Yonkaira Pena Isabel and Annerys Vargas Valdez were on the country’s week 2 VNL roster.
The United States and Germany last met in the FIVB World Grand Prix in 2016, with the U.S. taking all three meetings in the preliminary rounds, two via sweep and one in four sets. That tournament also marked the last contest between the USA and Thailand, with the Americans winning that match via sweep (6/11 in Ningbo, China).
While the USA is the odds on favorite to come out on top of the pool, as shown on opening week, anything can happen. Will the German team that beat Brazil rise to the occasion? Will the Dominican Republic find its footing?
Stories To Watch
- Brayelin Martinez (Dominican Republic) has scored 106 points for her team over six matches, ranking fourth among all players. She has downed 91 kills and added 10 blocks and five aces. Will she be asked to carry the load once again and can she do so against a familiar foe like the United States?
- Louisa Lippman (Germany) has been a one-woman show for the Germans, scoring 114 points (103 kills, 6 blocks, 5 aces), but her team has struggled to find a secondary scorer. Will someone step up to aid her or will her standout performances be left begging?
- Offensive balance for the United States. Michelle Bartsch-Hackley is the team’s leading scorer with 71 points, but Jordan Larson and Kim Hill are right behind with 65 and 60 respectively. Karch Kiraly has done a nice job mixing up his offense, with opposite Annie Drews, middle Tori Dixon, outside Kelly Murphy and two-time Olympian Foluke Akinradewo all taking their turns in the spotlight as well. It remains to be seen which lineup Kiraly will go with on Week 3 although we know he is not adding any new names to the fold.
- Chatchu-On Moksri and Ajcharaporn Kongyot have been the 1-2 punch for the Thai team offensively with 73 points each. Pleumjit Thinkaow has chipped in 0.74 blocks per set. All three will need to be at the top of their game to produce the results needed to move up the standings.