Now that the 2018 FIVB Men’s and Women’s Challenger Cups are in the bag, the fields are set for the 2019 Volleyball Nations League.
Of course, the tournament is still ongoing and entering the final stages in 2018. The majority of the nations will return to 2019 with one exception, as the last place challenger team in the VNL is replaced by the winner of the Challenger Cup.
On the Men’s side, the core teams are Argentina, Brazil, China, France, Germany, Iran, Italy, Japan, Poland, Russia, Serbia and the United States. The quartet of challenger teams who joined them in 2018 were Australia, Bulgaria, Canada and South Korea. Following a 1-14 record, which led to the lowest standing among not just challenger teams but all teams, the Korean side have been relegated out of the tournament. Standing in their place in 2019 will be Portugal to join the other 15 nations.
For the Women, the core teams are slightly different with Brazil, China, Germany, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Russia, Serbia, South Korea, Thailand, Turkey and the United States. The other four in the event as challenger teams in the inaugural Volleyball Nations League were Argentina, Belgium, Dominican Republic and Poland. Of the group, Argentina ranked the lowest at 1-14, sending them out of the field. Switching in for the 2019 tournament will be Bulgaria, who just won the Women’s Challenger Cup.
With those new teams rotating in for the lowest ranked challenger teams, the 2019 slate has a clear picture. Of course, the 2018 edition is still wrapping up now with Gold medals on the line for both Men and Women.