With the Drawing of Lots for the 2018 FIVB Women’s World Championship just concluded in Tokyo, we now know which teams will be playing against which opponents in their pools in the first round of the tournament.
In Pool A, which will be played in Yokohama, the hosts Japan were seeded first (row 1) and the Netherlands were seeded eighth (row 2). With the draw, here is how Pool A looks:
- Japan (FIVB Ranking 6)
- Netherlands (8)
- Argentina (11)
- Germany (T13)
- Cameroon (18)
- Mexico (26), for an average rank for Pool A of 13.67
Here is the schedule for Pool A.
Japan has an easy middle schedule after the Netherlands match. Germany may be tough, but Japan should win their final match. Netherlands has a tough start with Germany and Japan, but should roll their final 3 matches.
Moving onto Pool B, to be played in Sapporo, China the number one team in the world (row 1) and Italy were seeded seventh (row 2). With the draw, here is how Pool B looks:
- China (1)
- Italy (7)
- Turkey (12)
- Bulgaria (17)
- Canada (19)
- Cuba (25), for an average rank for Pool B of 13.50
Here is the schedule for Pool B.
I want to say there are fireworks in this pool everyday with one elimination match. Bulgaria-Italy on day 1, Turkey-China on day 2, Bulgaria-Turkey on day 3, Turkey-Italy on day 4 and Italy-China on day 5. Possibly a two or three-way tie for first at the end of play.
Moving onto Pool C, to be played in Kobe, USA were seeded second (row 1) and Russia were seeded fifth (row 2). With the draw, here is how Pool C looks:
- USA (2)
- Russia (5)
- South Korea (10)
- Thailand (16)
- Azerbaijan (24)
- Trinidad & Tobago (34), for an average rank for Pool C of 15.17
Here is the schedule for Pool C.
USA appears to get an easier draw, but I think that it gets a tougher draw, but easier matches in between tough matches. Russia gets two easy matches to start, but more difficult to finish.
Moving onto Pool D, to be played in Hamamatsu, Serbia were seeded third (row 1) and Brazil were seeded fourth (row 2). With the draw, here is how Pool C looks:
- Serbia (3)
- Brazil (4)
- Dominican Republic (9)
- Puerto Rico (T13)
- Kazakhstan (21)
- Kenya (34), for an average rank for Pool D of 13.83
Here is the schedule for Pool D.
Big day in this pool will be matchday 3 as Brazil and Serbia face off.
My first look at the pools Pool B, is the “Pool of Death” in my mind with China, Italy and Turkey. If one of those teams losses two games, they will all be but eliminated from the third round. Italy was placed by the organizers (per FIVB rules, organizers can choose two matches per pool to be on certain days) to play Turkey on matchday 4 in Pool B, and then China on the final day. The strange thing is that Japan would not face these teams until the 3rd round. Pool C, in my mind is the next toughest pool with USA, Russia, South Korea and Azerbaijan. Both Azerbaijan and South Korea have all-world players with Kim Yeon-koung (KOR) and Paulina Rahimova (AZE). If one of them gets hot, it can easily mean a loss. In Pool D, Serbia and Brazil will be the class of the pool, and fighting for first. Lastly in Pool A, Japan as the hosts got a favorable draw. However with the Netherlands in the same pool, Japan may not finish the pool in first. In order for the hosts to make the third round, they will need to win as many matches as possible in the first round. Japan will advance to Pool E with the teams from Pool D, which will have Brazil and Serbia. 2 losses will probably get you into the third round, but 3 losses will make it really hard. As for Pool F, which will have the teams from Pool B & C. Russia, Italy, China, USA, Turkey and Bulgaria will be battling for the three spots in the third round.