2018 FIVB WOMEN’S VOLLEYBALL NATIONS LEAGUE – WEEK 2/POOL 6
- May 22nd-24th, 2018
- Macau Forum | Macau, China (Capacity: 4,000)
- Time Zone: UTC +08:00
- World Rankings: #1 China, #3 Serbia, #16 Thailand, #22 Poland
|Date||Time||Score||Set 1||Set 2||Set 3||Set 4||Set 5||Total||Report|
Serbia and China are two of the best teams in this tournament, though both suffered a surprise loss in the opening week. China, after dominating its first two opponents, was swept 3-0 by a young South Korean team. But, without their superstar Zhu Ting, and relying on a very young team, there won’t be much concern in Beijing, as the team is guaranteed a spot in the Final 6 as hosts anyway.
Serbia, meanwhile, was beaten on that same day 3-1 by Brazil – even though Brazil had looked rocky earlier in the week. Serbia, like China, didn’t lose a set before they lost their 3rd match.
A projection for teams to advance to the Final 6 could be around 25 or 26 points. If a team can win two of their three matches every week that would set them up well.
In terms of points, a 3-0 or a 3-1 win earns the maximum of 3 for the winner and 0 for the loser. A 3-2 win earns 2 points for the winner and 1 point for the loser. Wins proceed points in terms of standings though.
Note: China is highlighted because they have secured a spot in the Final 6 as the event’s host. Teams with asterisks (*) are in this pool.
This pool has a dichotomy between the top teams and the bottom teams, with China and Serbia being a potential finals preview, while Poland and Thailand are likely to be battling in the bottom half of the table. The big matchup will take place on the final day of the pool, Thursday, May 24th.
In last year’s Grand Prix, Serbia beat China 3-1 in pool play, and repeated the same score in the bronze medal match. China had Zhu Ting in both of those matches, and Serbia was still able to win both in fairly-comfortable 4th sets.
There’s still been no word out of China as to whether Zhu will return, but comments from her coach last week indicate that she’ll rest again (she’s on a rare ‘vacation,’ visiting family) before re-joining the team next week in Hong Kong for their 3rd-straight pool on home soil.
Poland only came away from the first week of play with 1 victory, over a neutered Italian team, but put up a good fight in their opener against the United States, before losing handily to Turkey. They should be the favorites against Thailand: a win that they’ll desperately need to keep in any kind of contention for the Final 6.
STORYLINES TO WATCH
- China – Week 2 will be about watching for more development from China’s young lineup, which includes a number of senior national team debutants. None shone brighter in week 1 than 18-year old Yingying Li, who led China in scoring in her very first National Team match. At a minimum, she gives China the added depth it needs to avoid a semi-final loss like it had last year. At best, it gives them another big weapon on the outside, opposite Zhu Ting.
- Poland – The Polish team, which feels like it’s rebuilding again around a very young core, has put its focus on 21-year old opposite Malwina Smarzek. She had 58 swings in a 4-set match against the US (22 kills, 38%); 56 swings in a 5-set match against Italy (23 kills, 41%); and 36 swings against Turkey in 3 sets (12 kills, 33%). She’s responded well, in spite of the team being without their starting setter Joanna Wolosz. Poland played a relatively-clean match against the United States (only 16 total errors in 4 sets), and have served well too (17 aces in 12 sets, as compared to just 14 for their opponents). Even Poland’s block has played well. They just need to find more offense to support Smarzek.
- Serbia – Brankica Mihaljovic picked up where she left off from last year’s Grand Prix and led all scorers in week 1 with 46 points in 9 sets played for Serbia. She was the top scorer in last year’s GP as well. A sweep in pool 7 play is a possibility, but China, even without Zhu Ting, still might have the formula. Brazil’s success against Serbia came in two parts: shutting down Mihaljovic (she had just 6 of her 46 points in 3 sets against Brazil on 4 of 16 hitting), and by getting their middles heavily involved in the offense. China has one of the best-hitting middles in the tournament: 21-year old Yuan Xinyue.
- Thailand – The Thai team has been slightly more efficient feeding their outsides Chatchu-On Moksri, Ajcharaporn Kongyot, and Onuma Sittirak than they have when feeding phenom opposite Kokram Pimpichaya. And yet, the 19-year old Pimpichaya received by-far more sets than anybody else on Thailand’s roster in week 1, with 94 total swings in 3 matches (including 43 out of her team’s 139 total in a 3-1 loss to Russia). She hit 34% in the tournament, while the 3 above-mentioned primary outside hitters combined to hit slightly better at 35%. In the team’s one win against Argentina, however, that percentage for the outside hitters jumped to 54%. Thailand needs to figure out its best offensive options for each given match and make sure they’re being fed the ball. They have lots of talent on both sides of their offense, but it’s a lot of young, inconsistent talent.