China, the US, and the Darkhorse Dutch in Pool H (Predictions)

  0 Braden Keith | October 13th, 2018 | Asian Volleyball, European volleyball, International Volleyball, News, NORCECA volleyball, Previews & Recaps, U.S. Women's Volleyball

2018 FIVB Women’s Volleyball World Championships – Pool H Preview

  • October 14th-16th, 2018
  • Nagoya Gaishi Hall, Nagoya, Japan (Capacity 10,000)
  • FIVB Rankings: #1 China, #2 United States, #8 Netherlands

While the pools are fairly-well balanced, all 3 teams in Pool H will breathe a sigh of relief to have avoided both Italy and Serbia in this Final 6 round.

The biggest match of this pool, between the Olympic champions and world #1s China and the Nations League champions and world #2s United States, will open the pool. That means either China or the United States will control their destiny early, but not both. Whomever wins that match knows that they can lock in their spot in the semi-finals via a win over the Netherlands, OR by the other team losing to the Netherlands, and will also have the upper hand in a number of tie-breakers.

The American women were on-fire coming into the tournament, having dominated the Nations League earlier this summer. But, what looked like an unstoppable offensive juggernaut coming in, with tons of weapons at both hitter positions, has turned into a struggle at the outside. Nations League MVP Michelle Bartsch-Hackley hasn’t been able to get into a rhythm with her reps limited, and she’s hitting just 36.3% in this tournament. Her 124 swings is about half of what Jordan Larson and Kim Hill are getting at the outside, as American coach Karch Kiraly has relied most heavily on his two veterans at this tournament.

He did give Bartsch-Hackley the start against Italy, but she only scored 4 points (the Americans had all 3 of their outside hitters, and none of their opposites, on the court for most of that Round-2 closing loss).

The Americans are hitting just 41.38% in this tournament. That’s worst among all teams that advanced to the Final 6, and just 12th out of 16 2nd-round teams. It’s actually been the American middles, a less-heralded group, but still tons of quality led by veteran Foluke Akinradewo, that has exceeded expectations for the Americans.

The US beat China 3-0 and 3-1 at the Nations League, but in their lone match so far in the World Championships, China cruised to a 3-0 win, with the Americans only surpassing 18 points in a set once.

Team Hitting Percentages, 2nd Round Teams:

1 ITA 49.44%
2 SRB 49.36%
3 CHN 48.04%
4 NED 47.21%
5 GER 45.60%
6 DOM 45.52%
7 BRA 45.12%
8 RUS 44.97%
9 TUR 44.27%
10 JPN 41.98%
11 AZE 41.67%
12 USA 41.39%
13 THA 40.90%
14 MEX 39.60%
15 PUR 39.25%
16 BUL 39.05%

At a 10,000-foot view, it’s easy to say “the Americans and Chinese are the 2 best teams in the World Rankings, they’re going to emerge.” But something hasn’t been right for the Americans after losing 6 out of 7 sets against China and Italy to close round 2, whereas the Netherlands beat Serbia and pushed Brazil to 5 in their penultimate match.

Jamie Morrison’s Dutch team has shown surprising depth. Lonneke Sloetjes has taken over the offense at the opposite position, and a 3-headed monster at middle of Yvon Belien, Juliet Lohuis, and Nicole Koolhaas; and Celeste Plak is really coming into her own at outside hitter. The Dutch have probably had the best coaching performance in this tournament, mixing and matching their multitude of pieces in a way that actually allowed them to win their 2nd-place pool.

None of these three teams have looked as invincible in this tournament at any points, really, as their counterparts in Pool G. China, whose only loss came to Italy 3-1 in the opening round, seems like the best bet to emerge from the group.

As for who will join them in the semi-finals, that’s a matter of how much we can trust the Americans’ form to return to where it was earlier this year as compared to where it was in their last 2 matches.

In this case, on this stage, we’ll trust the American talent to rise to the top and find a way through with a few extra days to figure out their technical challenges. But, this group could just-as-easily go any other way.

Final Predictions:

  • China def. United States 3-2 (25-21, 19-25, 25-23, 22-25, 15-9)
  • United States def. Netherlands 3-1 (25-20, 25-19, 22-25, 25-19)
  • China def. Netherlands 3-1 (25-20, 25-19, 18-25, 25-22)

Pool G Schedule

Tokyo Time Italy Time Serbia Time Dutch Time Beijing Time New York Time
Japan vs. Serbia October 14th 19:20 12:20 12:20 12:20 18:20 6:20
Italy vs. Japan October 15th 19:20 12:20 12:20 12:20 18:20 6:20
Italy vs. Serbia October 16th 16:10 9:10 9:10 9:10 15:10 3:10

Pool H Schedule

Tokyo Time Italy Time Serbia Time Dutch Time Beijing Time New York Time
China vs. United States October 14th 16:10 9:10 9:10 9:10 15:10 3:10
Netherlands vs. United States October 15th 16:10 9:10 9:10 9:10 15:10 3:10
Netherlands vs. China October 16th 19:20 12:20 12:20 12:20 18:20 6:20

Leave a Reply


About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and co-founder of Braden's first foray into sports journalism came in 2010, when he launched a swimming website called The Swimmers' Circle. Two years later, he joined as a co-founder. Long huge fans of volleyball, when Braden and the SwimSwam partners sought an opportunity to …

Read More »

Don't want to miss anything?

Subscribe to our newsletter and receive our latest updates!