2017 FIVB Women’s Club World Championship
The top eight women’s club teams from around the globe will gather in Kobe, Japan, May 9-14, for the 2017 FIVB Women’s Club World Championship. The 11th-edition of the tournament will feature four automatic berths and four wild card spots. All 20 matches of the tournament will be streamed live on YouTube.
“Because of volleyball’s popularity in Japan, there will be a lot of expectations from the fans,” VakifBank Istanbul coach Giovanni Guidetti said. “It is always an honour to play here. The teams are all playing on a high level. It will be interesting to see different volleyball styles. I expect an amazing competition. It will be interesting to see how each team reacts at the end of the season like this. My team is in good condition right now, but we will see how we play against the other teams.”
Host Hisamitsu Springs, 2016 Asian Champions NEC Red Rockets, 2017 South American Champions Rexona-Sesc Rio of Brazil, and 2017 European Champions Vakifbank Istanbul were the automatic qualifiers. Volei Nestle Osasco of Brazil, Eszacisbasi Vitra of Turkey, Dynamo Moscow of Russia and Volero Zurich of Switzerland round out the field.
The teams were placed into two four-team pools. Vakifbank, Dynamo Moscow, Rexona-Sesc and Hisamitsu Springs make up Pool A. Eszacibasi, Volero Zurich, Volei Nestle and NEC Red Rockets form Pool B.
Each pool will feature round robin action with two matches from each being played on Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday. Placings will be decided Saturday and Sunday with the top four teams advancing to the semifinals. Fifth through eighth place will be decided through a classification round as well as fifth and seventh place matches.
Eszacibasi is the two-time defending champions, having defeated Casalmaggiore (3-2) in 2016 and Dynamo Krasnodar (3-1) in 2015. Dynamo Kazan won the 2014 title, while Vakifabank did so in 2013 and Osasco in 2012.
Only six teams participated in the even from 2010 to 2015. Eight teams were in the field in 2016.
Teams from the European Volleyball Federation have won seven of the 10 previous titles. Eszacibasi is the only team to win more than one title. Meanwhile, Turkish teams have taken four gold medals. Brazilian squads have managed 11 medals, three gold, five silver and three bronze.
American Jordan Larson was the 2015 MVP, playing for Eszacibasi, while the team’s Tijana Boskovic was the tournament MVP in 2016.
Dynamo Moscow vs. Vakifbank Istanbul
9 p.m. ET Monday / Watch Live
Vakifbank comes into the tournament after winning the European Championships April 23. The Turkish first division team defeated two-time defending club world champions Eczacibasi Istanbul in the event semifinals. The VakifBank roster includes American outside hitter Kimberly Hill and Olympic gold medalist Zhu Ting from China.
“Our strength is that we have a lot of players so we can make good changes in the game,” VakifBank Istanbul coach Giovanni Guidetti said. “We must receive well before setting and attacking.”
Dynamo Moscow won the Russian Super League title for the second straight year and finished fourth at the CEV championships, falling to Eczacibasi in the bronze medal match.
“We have very strong attack and block,” Dynamo Moscow coach Yurli Panchenko said. “We hope we can use that to our advantage in this competition.”
Volero Zurich vs. Eczacibasi Istanbul
11:45 p.m. ET Monday / Watch Live
Two-time defending world champions Eczacibasi already has some hardware in 2017, taking bronze in the European Championships in April, despite losing star player Thaisa Daher to an ankle injury April 4. Daher is likely to miss the World Championships while recovering. The roster of the Turkish first division squad, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary, includes American middle blocker Rachael Adams, who was named to the CEV Champions League Dream Team, and USA outside hitter Jordan Larson.
“Our second-line skills on defense, reception and coverage will be important,” Eczacibasi coach Massimo Barbolini said. “We must have strong spiking and blocking, but most importantly the team must have balance in all skills.”
Volero Zurich is making its fifth appearance in the World Championships. The team advanced to the bronze medal match in the four previous tournaments, but only secured the medal in 2015. Volero won the Swiss Championship and Swiss Cup in 2017, extending an eight-year run at the top of both tournaments. American Foluke Akinradewo will play her final tournament with the side before transferring to Hisamitsu Springs.
“We have good players who are tall,” Valero boss Zoran Terzic said. “We attack and block better than defend, so it is important that we must play well in all elements of the game.”
Hisamitsu Springs vs. Rexona-SESC Rio
2:30 a.m. ET Tuesday / Watch Live
The host team, Hisamitsu Springs, is no newcomer to the Worlds stage, having playing in each of the last three tournaments. The team finished fifth in 2014 and 2015 and sixth in 2016. The team was the reigning Japan Volleyball League champion, but recently lost their crown to NEC Red Rockets.
“The V. League ended last month, so we have been trying to come up with ways to combat the power and height of the other teams,” Hisamitsu Springs coach Shingo Sakai said. “We must have strength on serve and defense to compete with the other teams.”
Rexona-SESC Rio won its third-straight South American title in 2017 and also secured its fifth-straight Brazilian Superleague championship. Rexona won the silver medal at the 2013 Worlds, is making its fourth appearance at the tournament. The roster features three Brazilian Olympians, including 2016 gold medalists Gabi Guimaraes and Juciely Silva. Two-time Olympic libero Fabi Oliveira also is on the roster along with Anne Buijs from the Netherland’s fourth place Olympic squad
“We don’t really have a star player or starter from national teams,” Rexona-SESC Rio coach Bernardo Rezende said. “We depend on balance. We are not tall and we don’t have a star who can score 30 points.”
NEC Red Rockets vs. Volei Nestle Osasco
6 a.m. ET Tuesday / Watch Live
NEC Red Rockets, which will make their Women’s Club World Championship debut this year after winning the 2016 Asian Club Championship. NEC won the Japan Volleyball Premier League title in 2017, defeating Hisamitsu Springs. Bulgarian opposite Emiliya Nikolova leads the team.
“We will have to offset the height and power of the other teams through pressure on serve and good reception,” NEC Red Rockets coach Akinori Yamada said.
Volei Nestle Osasco, the 2012 World Champions, was the runner-up in the Brazilian Super League this season. Osasco returns to the World Championships after a two-year absence. The team had finished third or better in each of its previous five appearances at the event. Osasco is led by outside hitter Tandara Caixeta and middle blocker Ana Beatriz.
“Our capacity of playing as a group is our strength,” Osasco coach Luizomar De Moura said.