2018 FIVB MEN’S VOLLEYBALL NATIONS LEAGUE – WEEK 5/POOL 18
- June 12th-June 14th, 2018
- Wałbrzych, Poland | Centrum Sportowo-Rekreacyjne Aqua Zdrój (Capacity: 2,000)
- Time Zone: Central European Summer Time (UTC + 2)
- World Rankings: #5 Russia, #6 Japan, #9 Dominican Republic, #22 Poland
|Date||Time||Score||Set 1||Set 2||Set 3||Set 4||Set 5||Total||Report|
|12 Jun||17:30||–||Dominican Republic||–||–||–||0–0|
|14 Jun||20:30||–||Dominican Republic||–||–||–||0–0|
No team in Pool 18 has a great shot at making it into the Final Round – and two of the countries (Japan and Dominican Republic) are already eliminated. Still, if all of the moons line up and the Netherlands go 0-3, a 3-0 week from Russia or Poland could potentially be enough.
While the combination of those two remains unlikely, the stacked amount of 6-6 teams followed by a 2-10 Dominican Republic team makes a 3-0 week possible. It also means, in a more likely scenario, that there will be a lot of inter-pool carnage where the teams beat up on each other and no team comes out at 3-0.
Obviously the importance of that 3-0 mark is that without an undefeated week, Russia and Poland have no chance of advancing on. Still, each nation will be looking for a little bit better standing for their final finish that will effect their future world ranking.
Playing in front of a home crowd, Poland could put a nice bow on their 2018 tournament run, which has produced a nice surprise to this point as a top 10 team and a 6-6 record. The surprise comes from the fact they are ranked 22nd in the FIVB World Rankings, as now they still have an outside chance of making the playoffs.
A good theme for this pool though won’t be about making the Final Round, because the only two teams with chances need to win all three, have Netherlands lose three in a row and still win a tiebreaker based on points or sets/point ratio. Instead, it will be about finishing strong and improving your world ranking as these teams build for the future.
That will definitely be the case for Japan and the Dominican Republic, who are mathematically eliminated. They’ve both shown some strong young prospects as well that should be enticing to watch. Poland and Russia on the other hand are clinging to that slim hope, but have similar outlooks in trying to further establish themselves. It’s also been a bit of a disappointing tournament for Russia, so it’s a chance to end on a high note.
To open things up, Poland gets Japan where they are a slight favorite while Russia is a semi-large favorite over Dominican Republic. Should those both go the way of the team who is projected to win, it could set up the upstart in Poland against the team who has fallen below expectations in Russia as the Pool 18 champion. That may not mean a ton toward the overall table, but it falls in line with the theme of ending the tournament with pride and on a hot streak.
STORIES/PLAYERS TO WATCH:
- Dominican Republic – Things haven’t been great for the Dominican Republic thus far, but they have seen a great individual outing from 21 year-old wing-spiker Brayelin Elizabeth Martinez. She has logged team-highs in spikes (173) and points (196), with the latter putting her in fifth for everyone in the tournament. They’ll look for some more growth this week where they can at least end on a bit of a high note.
- Japan – No individuals rank in the top 20 of scoring from the Japanese side, as they haven’t consistently provided a wealth of offense. On the bright side, their top two options, Yuki Ishii (137 points) and Ai Kurogo (127 points), are just 27 and 20 years old respectively, so this will be another learning experience as Japan will try to finish above .500 despite not making the Final Round.
- Poland – No one has scored more points than Malwina Smarzek (289 points) in the tournament, and it’s not really close as she has over 50 points more than anyone else. They also have two of the top five servers in terms of aces per set and the top blocker, but just haven’t found enough supporting pieces/depth or efficiency on either end to work into a playoff spot. If that comes together, they might be the top team in the pool.
- Russia – The Russians have been middle of the pack offensively and in the block, but their serving has created many chances. They’ll need to cling to that behind Irina Voronkova (0.36 aces per set) and Tatiana Romanova (0.34 aces per set), who each are in the top five of the event in that regard, and find some more prowess in the other ways. Voronkova is also the top option offensively, so will have plenty on her shoulders if Russia wants to stay alive and end on a high note.