2018 FIVB MEN’S VOLLEYBALL NATIONS LEAGUE – WEEK 5/POOL 19
- June 22nd-June 23rd, 2018
- Azadi Indoor Stadium, Tehran, Iran (seats 12,000)
- Time Zone: Iran Daylight Time, UTC+4:30 (U.S. Eastern Time +8:30)
- World Rankings: #8 Iran, #10 Germany, #14 Bulgaria, #21 South Korea
|Date||Local Time||Eastern Time||Home Team||Visiting Team|
None of these teams are in the top half of the standings. Iran and South Korea have been mathematically eliminated from advancing to the Final Round. South Korea is not only eliminated from this year’s tournament, but since they are in last place they will be replaced in the 2019 Volleyball Nations League by the winner of the Challenger Cup.
Germany and Bulgaria have a chance to climb into the top 6 and qualify for the Final Round in Lille, France, but that chance is very minuscule. Either of those teams will have to go 3-0 this weekend. That could happen for either of those teams. If that happens, they will have to get a lot of help from other teams. Italy will have to go 0-3 in Pool 20 in Modena, Italy. That may happen since they play France, Russia, and the United States. Those two occurrences will still not be enough. Brazil, Poland, or Serbia will have to go 0-3. If it is Serbia who goes 0-3, China must be the team who wins that pool (with Japan and Canada). Canada must also go 1-2 in that scenario. Japan only has 15 points, so they can go 2-1 and be overtaken by Bulgaria or Germany going 3-0. Wins from Poland, Brazil and Serbia (or a Chinese loss) will essentially eliminate everyone in Pool 19 from the Final Round.
* Denotes a team in Pool 19
As mentioned earlier, there is a good chance that all of these teams will be eliminated before the first serve. Brazil and Poland will be playing in Australia with Serbia playing in China, so their matches will be competed before any of the matches start in Tehran. Even with that being the case, these should be interesting matches. The crowd in Iran is always big and boisterous. Pair that with the heat, and it is not unreasonable to think Iran could go 3-0 this weekend to gain momentum heading into the World Championships in September.
Storylines and Players to Watch:
- Bulgaria: Todor Skrimov and Georgi Bratoev became the casualties of injuries earlier in the tournament and will not be in Tehran for the final matches of the Preliminary Round. Nikolay Uchikov will be there with Valentin Bratoev. These are the top scorers for Bulgaria with 142 and 105 points respectively. One should pay attention to Georgi Seganov to see how the setter runs the offense that is without the top outside hitter and the top opposite. Teodor Salparov, the libero, is 5th on the list of top passers and 6th on the list of best diggers in the competition.
- Iran: Milad Ebadipour has become Iran’s leading scorer. The outside hitter with PGE Skra Belchatow has scored 139 points on 112 kills, 14 blocks, and 13 aces. His point total and 0.28 aces per set are both 9th best in the competition. Amir Ghafour is 2nd on Iran’s list of top scorers through 4 weeks of play. The opposite did not play last week and has scored 126 points on 116 kills, 9 blocks, and 1 service ace. Their 3rd-highest scorer is Ali Shafiei. The middle blocker scored 32 points last week to bring his total to 109. Shafiei leads the team in blocking with 17 blocks and a 0.37 blocks per set average. It will also be interesting to watch their setter, Saeid Marouf. He will be a favorite of the home crowd and can run the attack through the middle better than most setters in the world.
- Germany: Without Denis Kaliberda and Gyorgy Grozer, Lucas Kampa has turned to Simon Hirsch and Christian Fromm for offensive production. Hirsch is leading the German squad with 130 points from 103 kills, 18 blocks, and 9 aces. Fromm has the most kills for Germany in the competition with 106. He has also chipped in 10 blocks and 5 aces for a total of 121 points. Jan Zimmermann is the top server of the tournament with 0.33 aces per set.
- South Korea: Momentum is on Korea’s side heading into the final weekend of play. They are coming off of a 3-0 win, their only win, over China on June 17. With a dismal 1-11 record, they were able to take the United States and Italy to a 5th set. Jiseok Jung is the only Korean player to have more than 100 points. Jung has scored 116 points, including 103 kills. Sung-Min Moon has contributed 96 points on 85 kills, 6 blocks, and 5 service aces.