2018 FIVB MEN’S VOLLEYBALL NATIONS LEAGUE – WEEK 3/POOL 11
- June 8th-June 10th, 2018
- Ufa Arena, Ufa, Russia (seating 8,250)
- Time Zone: GMT +5 (U.S. Eastern Time +9)
- World Rankings: #1 Brazil, #4 Russia, #8 Iran, #20 China
|Date||Time||Eastern Time||Home Team||Visiting Team|
Now that 40% of the matches are completed there is quite a logjam at the top of the standings. Only 1 match separates 1st from 8th place. Brazil looks vulnerable, but they showed they have the mental fortitude of the top ranked team in the world with their 3-2 win over the United States last week. Russia is looking to solidify their spot in the Final Round. It is still possible for Iran and China to make their way into the top 6, but it will be difficult for them to come away with wins over Brazil and Russia. If either of them go 0-3 this week, they will have probably eliminated themselves.
* Denotes teams in Pool 12
Most fans will be looking at the Russia – Brazil match as the highlight of this pool. It is a rematch of a semifinal match from the 2016 Olympic Games. Neither team is bringing the same roster as the one they played with in the Olympic Games, but they both have shown enough talent to make it a tightly contested match. Each of those teams need a win against each other to keep them squarely in the realm of qualification. China and Iran both have some of the best scorers in the competition thus far. While they travel to Ural with the hopes of upsetting Brazil or Russia, they know that the match against each other on the 8th of June is a must-win to keep their hopes of qualification alive.
Storylines and Players to Watch:
- Brazil: There was much written about Brazil only being a resemblance of the team that won the Olympic Games in 2016. They still have questions at libero, and they no longer have any of the outside hitters that brought them the gold (Murillo is still on the team but as a libero). What we know about Brazil is that they have talent to spare. Wallace is arguably the best opposite in the world and leads the team with 80 points. They have also gotten comparable outputs from their top middles blockers in Isac Santos and Lucas Saatkamp, who have 37 and 36 points respectively. Their size and blocking prowess help when deciding who will counter Muserskiy of Russia in the front row. Both are capable of relatively containing him. No matter who they choose as setter, both Bruno Rezende and William Arjona are top-notch at the position.
- China: While the Chinese are sitting in 10th place in the standings, they have the best scorer of the tournament thus far. Chuang Jiang leads the way with 120 kills, 10 blocks, and 5 service aces. He had 37 points in their significant upset over France on the 2nd weekend of the tournament. That was not only the most points in the match, it was more points than the rest of his team combined.
- Iran: Saied Marouf is the face and hands for Iran volleyball. Their opposite, Amir Ghafour, is the 4th best scorer in the competition with 93 points on 81 kills, 11 blocks, and 1 service ace. A unique set of stats is that their 2nd and 3rd leading scorers are both middle blockers. That shows how adept Marouf is at forcing a ball with impeccable timing through the middle even if the pass is not perfect. Seyed Mohammad Mousavi Eraghi is 3rd on Iran’s list of top scorers with 52 points on 34 kills, 3 aces, and a team-high 15 blocks. Seyed’s 0.65 blocks per set is 3rd in the entire tournament. Ali Shahiei, a player representing Iran for the first time, is 2nd in terms of scoring for Iran. The rookie middle blocker has scored 60 points with 34 of them being from kills. Shahel has also contributed 11 blocks and 3 aces.
- Russia: Dmitry Muserskiy is still commanding things in the middle. While he is the 3rd best scorer in the tournament with 94 points, he has the best hitting percentage at 67.33%. Muserskiy is the best blocker of the tournament thus far with 0.76 blocks per set, and is 2nd on the list of aces with 0.48 per set. Egor Kliuka seems to be relishing his role as the starting outside hitter. While he had often been touted as the a great future prospect for the Russian team, he has been showing he can carry the offensive burden. Kliuka leads the team with 75 kills. He is behind Muserskiy on the list of Russia’s best scorers with 90 points.