#VNL Week 5/Pool 19 Preview: Italy Needs a Miracle in Week 5

2018 FIVB WOMEN’S VOLLEYBALL NATIONS LEAGUE – WEEK 5/Pool 19

  • June 12th-14th, 2018
  • PalaSele, Eboli, Italy (Capacity: 8,000)
  • Time Zone: GMT +2 (U.S. Eastern Time +6)
  • FIVB World Ranks: #4 Brazil, #7 Italy, #16 Thailand, #13 Belgium

SCHEDULE

Date U.S. Eastern Time Local Time Home Team Away Team
12 Jun 11:00 17:00 Brazil Belgium
12 Jun 14:00 20:00 Italy Thailand
13 Jun 11:00 17:00 Thailand Brazil
13 Jun 14:00 20:00 Italy Belgium
14 Jun 11:00 17:00 Thailand Belgium
14 Jun 14:00 20:00 Italy Brazil

STANDINGS

Brazil is locked as “in” for the Final 6 with their 10 wins. Belgium and Thailand are formally eliminated from the next stage of the tournament, Belgium is safe from the relegation playoff, and Thailand is all-but-safe.

That leaves Italy, who will be in a furious bustle to sweep their 3 matches and earn full points. If they do so, then if one among Serbia, Turkey, or the Netherlands fail to win any matches this week, Italy advances to the Final 6.

In other words: one team is significantly more motivated this week than the other three, and that’s even without having mentioned that the Italians are playing in front of a home crowd, near to the region where team captain Cristina Chirichella grew up.

Matches Pts Sets Points
Rank Team W L W L Ratio W L Ratio
1 United States 11 1 34 35 5 7.000 986 795 1.240
2 Brazil* 10 2 28 32 15 2.133 1086 972 1.117
3 Serbia 9 3 28 32 14 2.286 1067 946 1.128
4 Turkey 9 3 28 32 14 2.286 1058 970 1.091
5 Netherlands 9 3 26 30 14 2.143 1028 907 1.133
6 Italy* 7 5 21 25 20 1.250 976 933 1.046
7 China 6 6 20 24 19 1.263 948 887 1.069
8 Russia 6 6 18 20 24 0.833 958 976 0.982
9 Poland 6 6 17 22 24 0.917 1034 971 1.065
10 Japan 6 6 16 20 23 0.870 920 956 0.962
11 Germany 5 7 14 19 26 0.731 963 1011 0.953
12 South Korea 5 7 14 16 25 0.640 856 915 0.936
13 Belgium* 3 9 9 14 29 0.483 880 989 0.890
14 Dominican Republic 2 10 8 12 30 0.400 819 982 0.834
15 Thailand* 2 10 7 15 32 0.469 1009 1088 0.927
16 Argentina 0 12 0 2 36 0.056 654 944 0.693

*Denotes teams in Pool 16

POOL PREVIEW

As mentioned above, there’s one team that will be full-bore for this week’s tournament. The rest of the teams will be playing for pride, positioning, preparation, and playing time.

There’s two teams in this pool that are among the best 5 in the world. Italy, who has proven that by running off 5-straight victories, and Brazil, who have won 10 of 11 losing only to the U.S. last week, will square off in the finale on Thursday. Brazil will be hampered by an injury to outside hitter Drussyla Costa, who is the team’s 5th-best scorer in the tournament so far with 91 points. Italy matches that absence, though, with one from starting outside hitter Miriam Sylla, their 2nd-leading scorer.

What’s left should be a spectacle, possibly with big implications for Italy, that features two of the world’s best scorers: Tandara Caixeta and Paola Egonu. Assuming both teams are still using their best lineups by then, this will be the match-of-the-week.

STORYLINES TO WATCH

  • Belgium – Belgium’s hitting percentage, with which they’ve struggled all tournament, improved in week 4, hitting about 40% in their matches against Germany, Argentina, and Poland. Now the challenge will be to build on that momentum against a higher level of opponent in week 5.
  • Brazil – Will Brazil be spooked by the injury to Drussyla? Or will they go full-bore to try and lock up the #2 seed? We’d guess somewhere in between, maybe trying to pull out some victories over Belgium and Thailand with stars on the bench, and bringing them on for crunch time moments.
  • Italy – We don’t know why Myriam Sylla is absent, who Italy will replace her with at the outside, why they’re carrying only 3 outside hitters, and where Serena Ortolani fits into it. What we do know is that Paola Egonu is backing-up her breakout summer of 2017 in the 2 weeks since rejoining Italy, and captain Cristina Chirichella will be motivated with what she joked would be practically her entire family in attendance.
  • Thailand – Thailand are reeling on 6-straight losses coming into week 5, but they have managed to keep errors low and hitting percentage high. They’ve been struggling to to put up any sort of formative block, though. Only 4 teams have fewer blocks in the tournament than do Thailand (87). Pleumjit Thinkaow leads the team with 42.

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