2018 FIVB WOMEN’S VOLLEYBALL NATIONS LEAGUE – WEEK 4 / POOL 14
- June 5-7, 2018
- Jiangmen, China | Jiangmen Sports Hall (Capacity: 8,500)
- Time Zone: China Standard Time (UTC + 8)
- World Rankings: #1 China, #2 USA, #4 Brazil, #5 Russia
Pool 14 might be the most loaded pool that the 2018 FIVB Women’s Volleyball Nations League will see. That is because it features an incredible four teams in the top five of the FIVB World Rankings. China was the 2016 Olympic gold medalist while Brazil won the 2017 and 2016 FIVB World Grand Prix. Team USA was the last non-Brazilian team to win that event, doing so in 2015. Meanwhile, Russia was the runner-up that year and earned a fourth-place finish in 2016. This is volleyball royalty at its best all coming together in one pool.
|Date||Time||Score||Set 1||Set 2||Set 3||Set 4||Set 5||Total||Report|
|5 Jun||16:00||–||United States||–||–||–||0–0|
|7 Jun||19:30||–||United States||–||–||–||0–0|
Going with the theme of this being a loaded group, it would only be right that each team is performing well through nine matches. So far, all four nations sit in the top seven, and three of the teams would make the cut to the next round. The one that would not is actually Russia, because China will be hosting the event. Still, it wouldn’t take much for Russia to move into the picture.
In total, the quartet combines for a 27-9 record. Leading the way though in the pool is the United States and Brazil, who both sit at 8-1 and atop the overall table. Not only will this pool create some separation between the two, but it’s an opportunity to fend off Russia below them. That same opportunity provides Russia a chance to move up the table, but there is a good chance that no one goes 3-0 in this pool.
It wouldn’t be much of a surprise for any team to win this pool, because all have been strong through this event. The team who has the worst record, China, is hosting the pool and is working on their second week back with star Zhu Ting. Russia has been solid overall at 6-3 and of course it wouldn’t be shocking for Team USA or Brazil to own the best record in the pool. That should make for a crazy fight to the finish where a 3-0 record might be just a dream.
Obviously, the importance of records in the pool is just another piece of what really matters – the overall table standings. Brazil and the United States can clinch a spot in the next round – which seems to be a foregone conclusion anyway – with a solid week, while Russia can either jump up the standings or stick in their position to make a final pool push next week.
The highlight match will be between the United States and Brazil, which pits the balanced and efficient attack and floor defense of Team USA against the power and winning experience of the South American side. It also features two of the strongest servers in Jordan Larson for USA and Tandara Caixeta for Brazil. Maybe most intriguing will be seeing the offense for the Americans against the killer-block of the Brazilians.
All of those things should come into play in matches with the others too, as even the winner of USA-Brazil could fall against the tough Russian side or in a road match with the top team in the world, China. The Asian side will have home court advantage and are working in Zhu for another week. With a spot already secured to the postseason, they could really throw a wrench in the other three teams chances of advancing on – although Russia is in a lot more danger of missing out than the other two. Knowing that, Russia is a little desperate and needs at least one win this week to set up a strong finale, or preferably two victories. That won’t come easy, but they have gone 2-1 in each of their first three weeks.
STORIES/PLAYERS TO WATCH:
- Brazil – The Brazilians have all kinds of power throughout the lineup, but Tandara Caixeta (131 spikes, 147 points) has been on another level and ranks fifth in the entire tournament in points after two 30 point outings last week. They’ve got the same type of power on the other end too with Ana Beatriz Correa (0.85 blocks per set) ranking second in the tournament in blocks per set and Adenizia Da Silva (0.67 blocks per set) not far behind.
- China – Last week was the first back for superstar Zhu Ting after an extensive club schedule. She immediately impressed, totaling 50 points for the week. They should be even better this week as Zhu gets even more reacquainted with her team that has seen a breakout performance from Xiaotong Liu (72 spikes, 89 points). It should be fascinating to see Zhu battle the other top teams as well and see if she can lift her team to a pool victory even though they already have a spot in the final round.
- Russia – The Russians sport two of the top 15 scorers through nine matches of the Volleyball Nations League in Irina Voronkova (138 points) and Kseniia Parubets (110 points). The duo will need to be on their game again this week in a time of need, because just one bad three-day stretch against this good of competition could bury them in the standings away from making the postseason.
- United States – Team USA continues to show its balance and efficient offense throughout the tournament, as Carli Lloyd has facilitated the attack. She’s got all kinds of options to throw it to, led by Michelle Bartsch-Hackley (91 spikes, 107 points), who has been seemingly unstoppable in this tournament. That said, no individual for the team ranks in the top 15 for spikes, showing how much they haven’t had to rely on one or two players. That should serve them well this week against top competition who won’t be able to key too hard on any individual.