2018 FIVB MEN’S VOLLEYBALL NATIONS LEAGUE – WEEK 2/POOL 7
- June 1st-June 3rd, 2018
- San Juan, Argentina | Estadio Aldo Cantoni (Capacity: 8,000)
- Time Zone: Argentina Time (UTC -3)
- World Rankings: #4 Italy, #6 Canada, #7 Argentina, #8 Iran
|Date||Time||Score||Set 1||Set 2||Set 3||Set 4||Set 5||Total||Report|
If you based this pool on World Rankings, it would represent arguably the toughest pool in week two of the 2018 Men’s Volleyball Nations League. The grouping features four top eight teams and a top four presence in Italy. However, the standings after one week and three matches would tell a different story.
Italy was awesome in the opening week, going 3-0 and collecting the second best point ratio of any country. It’s the teams after them in Pool 7 that are coming off lackluster opening marks. Combined, Canada, Iran and Argentina are 2-7. It doesn’t take a mathematician to realize that’s less wins total than what Italy has done as a lone nation.
With that being said, it’s just one week of a sample, and while Italy appears to have the strongest team in this pool based on the early going and world ranking, the tightness of the other three in the standings indicates strong competition ahead for the others. It also gives a great opportunity for a team like Canada or Iran to post a 2-1 week and get to back to an overall .500 record.
Italy will be the definite favorite coming into this pool and will have a good chance to work their way to 6-0 and in good positioning to make the elimination round. However, with talented teams in their pool that under-performed a bit in week one, it’s possible they could receive a stern challenge from another nation.
To show how much Italy is in fact favored, one could look at their first opponent – Canada. The Canadians are the next highest ranked team in Pool 7 per the FIVB World Rankings, yet according to BetDSI, Italy is a 2.5 set favorite and -833 moneyline favorites to win. That’s not the be-all-end-all, but it’s kind of a market indication of how far ahead Italy is seen by the public over the rest of the pool.
Even if Italy does dominate the pool, there still is a large opportunity for the others. A 2-1 week for either Canada or Iran would put them right back at .500 at 3-3 overall and set themselves up to make a move in week three. Additionally, it’s a chance to be buried in the standings with another 1-2 or 0-3 week, as a 2-4 or 1-5 start would be tough to overcome. For Argentina, they will look to play spoiler, which is a very real possibility as they get to play in front of the home fans.
STORIES TO WATCH:
- Argentina – The South American squad doesn’t have any individual who ranks in the top 16 in scoring, but has distributed the ball around to six different players who have notched 20+ points. The issue isn’t that they aren’t balanced, it’s that they need some of that balance to step up and be even more efficient and powerful. If that happens and they are more terminal, Argentina should be a tough team to beat in front of their home crowd this week.
- Canada – The North American nation had some offensive struggles in the opening week – although it wasn’t much better in blocking and serving. All things considered, 1-2 isn’t a bad start. They need setter Tyler Sanders to step it up along with serve receive as they try to find more options around Bradley Robert Gunter (team-best 31 spikes & 34 points on a .535 mark). Playing in a pool without Poland and Russia should definitely help.
- Iran – The Iranians have put together a strong team block led by Seyed Mohammad Mousavi Eraghi (0.64 per set), who leads the team and sits sixth for the entire tournament in blocks per set. They only went 1-2, but had to deal with France and Japan in the opening round in losses. Still, they’ll need to improve serve receive and an offense that didn’t find many options outside of Mousavi Eraghi and Amir Ghafour (42 spikes, 48 points).
- Italy – 20-year-old wing-spiker Ivan Zaytsev got the lions share of attacks in week one for the Italians and was also the team’s best server and second on the team in blocks. The combination was 69 points (56 spikes, seven aces, six blocks), 26 more than second on the Italian side. Not only that, but it ranks 13 points ahead of any other player in the entire tournament. The other three nations will have their hands full in defending Zaystsev, adding to a solid all-around roster.