2018 FIVB MEN’S WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS – WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 12TH, DAILY SUMMARY
6 nations (Italy, Canada, Brazil, United States, Poland, and Iran) can exhale ever-so-slightly on Thursday after picking up their 2nd wins of the preliminary round of the 2018 FIVB Men’s Volleyball World Championships. While nobody has mathematically clinched a spot in the 3rd round of play yet, in 2014, 2 wins of any flavor was enough for a country to ensure its advancement in the tournament.
The United States is the least-certain of those 6, as they again needed 5 sets to win on Thursday, taking down Australia 3-2. That means they only have 4 points. They have an off-day on Friday before taking on Russia, Cameroon, and Tunisia over the weekend. A win in any of those 3 matches would lock-up their spot in the next round.
Match of the Day: Brazil vs. France, Pool B
Just like on Wednesday, there was really only 1 match on Thursday that was worthy of reading too far into, and that was the battle between Brazil and France in Pool B. Brazil came away with the victory 3-2 (25-20, 25-20, 21-25, 23-25, 15-12) in front of 4,900 in Ruse. With middle blocker Kevin Le Roux benched, France struggled to find their rhythm early. But, it wasn’t the middles where French coach Laurent Tillie looked to find changes – it was basically in every other part of his lineup.
In the 3rd set, he brought in Jean Patry at opposite, Antoine Brizard at setter, and Thibault Rossard at outside hitter, replacing lineup regular Ben Toniutti at setter and Stephen Boyer at opposite, as well as his own son Kevin Tillie at the outside. Only seeing limited service action was Julien Lyneel, in spite of playing well in the lead-up to this tournament.
“It was a heroic match, they stifled us, and then Jean (Patry), Antoine (Brizard) and Thibault (Rossard) made a very good comeback, but we did not win,” coach Laurent Tillie said. “But we fought to the end on a huge game, I think it’s one of the most beautiful volleyball games I’ve ever seen, and on the tie-break, it’s been two and a half hours we needed a little more height (Le Roux is the team’s tallest player), we needed a winner, and it went to them tonight. The point is important, there are three games in the pool to try to qualify.”
The moves paid off, as France won the next 2 matches. They brought Boyer back in for the 5th, and Brazil, which stuck with its lineup the whole way, was able to finish things off. Earvin Ngapeth had 22 for France in the losing effort in his first full-match back from battling injury. Boyer, meanwhile, hit just 43%. In spite of 10 French a ces, they couldn’t overcome a monster 18 blocks from Brazil in the match. Wallace de Souza played big for Brazil, scoring 20 and hitting 18-for-38.
Player of the Day: Nicholas Hoag, Canada
Canada’s toughest matches of pool play are yet-to-come this week, with China, France, and Brazil still on their schedule, but they’ve fought their way to a pair of sweeps so far. Nicholas Hoag was a spark on Thursday, scoring 24 points (8 in every set) in their 3-0 win over Egypt. Hoag hit 21-for-34 in the match (61.7%) and also contributed 2 blocks and an ace to Canada’s effort. He’s now 2nd in the tournament in scoring with 36 points in spite of playing the minimum 6 sets through 2 matches.
If they can get Sharone Vernon-Evans back and fully-engaged in the offense (he played only limited points on Thursday), and Hoag continues to play well, then Canada has a chance to compete later on in the tournament.
STAT LEADERS – AFTER Thursday, SEPTEMBER 13TH:
- Best Scorer – Matt Anderson, United States – 40 points
- Best Spiker – Ivan Zaytsev, Italy – 72.73%
- Best Blocker – Javier Rojas, Cuba – 1.25 blocks/set
- Best Server – Mitja Gasparini, Slovenia – 1.75 aces/set
- Best Server – Eemi Tervaportti, Finland – 16.32 running sets/set
- Best Digger – Steven Marshall, Canada – 3.50 digs/set
- Best Receiver, Daoshuai Ji, China – 64.70% excellent
POOL-BY-POOL RESULTS AND RECAP LINKS – Thursday, September 13th
- Pool A – Italy def Belgium 3-0; Japan def. Dominican Republic 3-0 (LINK)
- Pool B – Canada def. Egypt 3-0; Brazil def. France 3-2 (LINK)
- Pool C – United States def. Australia 3-2 (LINK); Serbia def. Cameroon 3-0 (LINK)
- Pool D – Poland def. Puerto Rico 3-0; Iran def. Bulgaria 3-1 (LINK)
The top 4 teams in each pool advance to the 2nd round of the competition.
Italy, as co-hosts, wound up with the easiest path through the preliminary round of the tournament, and with a 2nd win on Thursday, a 3-0 sweep of Belgium, are well-on-their-way to locking in the top seed and qualifying to play in Pool E at home in Assago at the Mediolanum Forum.
Canada is the surprising 2-games-in leader in Pool B, by tie-breakers over Brazil and by easier-schedule over France. The Canadians’ and Brazilians’ off day comes Friday, but there’s still a big match: China vs. the Netherlands might decide which team gets out of this pool in 4th place (Egypt still could have a say in that, however, as they’ve played neither of those two teams yet).
The U.S. is the only team in Pool C with 2 wins, though while they’re idle on Friday, Russia has a chance to join them against Tunisia. The big match on Friday is Cameroon vs. Australia. Cameroon has a chance to advance out of pool play for the 2nd time in 3 editions, and a win over winless Australia might be enough to get them there. Australia played well against the US on Thursday, though, so that could be a low-key great game on Friday.
Everything has been fairly predictable so far in Pool D, including the 3-1 Iran win over hosts Bulgaria on Thursday, as Bulgaria didn’t get the same performance from Valentin Bratoev or setter Georgi Seganov as they did in their opener on Sunday. Poland and Iran play on Monday in a match that will likely decide the group.
Friday, SEPTEMBER 14TH SCHEDULE
Pool A, Florence, Italy:
- Japan vs. Slovenia, 17:00 local time, midnight Japan time, 17:00 Slovenia time
- Argentina vs. Dominican Republic, 20:30 local time, 12:00 Argentina time, 11:00 DR time
Pool B, Ruse, Bulgaria:
- China vs. Netherlands, 17:00 local time, 22:00 China time, 16:00 Netherlands time
- France vs. Egypt, 20:30 local time, 19:30 France time, 19:30 Egypt time
Pool C, Bari, Italy:
- Australia vs. Cameroon, 17:00 local time, 1:00 Friday Sydney time, 16:00 Cameroon time
- Russia vs. Tunisia, 20:30 local time, 21:30 Moscow time, 19:30 Tunisia time
Pool D, Varna, Bulgaria:
- Finland vs. Cuba, 17:00 local time, 17:00 Finland time, 10:00 Cuba time
- Bulgaria vs. Puerto Rico, 20:40 local time, 20:40 Bulgaria time, 13:40 Puerto Rico time