2018 FIVB Women’s Volleyball Nations League
- Gimnasio del Campus de la Universidad Tecnologica Nacional; Santa Fe, Argentina
- June 12-14, 2018
- Time Zone: UCT – 3; ET + 1
- FIVB World Rankings: No. 2 USA, No. 3 Serbia, No. 10 South Korea, No. 11 Argentina
|Date||Local Time||U.S. Eastern Time||Home||Visitor|
|June 12.||5:40 p.m.||4:40 p.m.||Serbia||United States|
|June 12.||8:40 p.m.||7:40 p.m.||Argentina||South Korea|
|June 13.||5:40 p.m.||4:40 p.m.||South Korea||United States|
|June 13.||8:40 p.m.||7:40 p.m.||Argentina||Serbia|
|June 14.||5:40 p.m.||4:40 p.m.||South Korea||Serbia|
|June 14.||8:40 p.m.||7:40 p.m.||Argentina||United States|
The United States has already cemented its spot in the Final Six and lead second place Brazil by six points.
With one win in less than five sets, Serbia will lock up its spot as well. Just one win in five sets would mean that the team must rely on an Italian loss to break through.
South Korea and Argentina have already been eliminated from Final Six contention and currently stand in 12th and 16th respectively.
After circling the globe, the United States have made it back to the Western hemisphere, wrapping up the preliminary rounds of the Volleyball Nations League against No. 3 Serbia, South Korea and Argentina. The Americans have already punched their ticket to China for the Final Six and stand in the top stop entering Week 5, but have opted to keep the same roster, giving them a leg up on all of the competition.
Serbia would offer a strong challenge, but the team has opted to gut its lineup in protest of the rigorous travel schedule of the tournament, which has taken the team to Brazil and China, home to Serbia and then on to the Netherlands before completing its trip around the globe in Argentina.
Serbia already is down a player in Brankica Mihajlovic, who injured her knee on Week 3, but reportedly also sent home Stefana Vlejkovic, Ana Antonijevic, Tijana Boskovic and Silvija Popovic. Boskovic and Mihajlovic were the top two scorers for the team, while Antonijevic is the starting setter and Popovic is the starting libero.
The intrigue of the decision is that Serbia has a strong hold among the Top 6 entering the week, but it not a lock as Italy is still in the running and could catch them with three wins and a dismal Serbian showing.
The United States is merely trying to keep its momentum going heading into the finals, bringing a 10-match win streak to Argentina.
Argentina is on the other end of the spectrum, trying to gain its first victory and escape possible relegation, still sitting on zero points.
South Korea registered two victories on Week 1, including one over No. 1 China, but has managed just three since, although one was a surprise sweep of Russia.
Stories/Players to Watch:
- United States: With matches against two teams at the bottom of the standings and a questionable Serbian roster, it will be interesting to see which lineup Karch Kiraly opts to use. Will he go with younger players like Annie Drews, Tori Dixon, Lauren Gibbemeyer and others as starters, while resting some of his seven Olympians for the Final Six? Will Justine Wong-Orantes reappear as the team’s libero or will Kelsey Robinson continue to hold down the role after switching from hitter Week 2?
- Serbia: Serbia struggled to a 1-2 record on Week 4 without Boskovic. With the depleted roster that made the trip to Argentina, the Serbs are a bit of an unknown. Who will provide the scoring without Boskovic and Mihajlovic? Will the team have the strong defense and setting to guide a young corps of players without those two starters? The team still needs one win to make the Final Six, but with Argentina in the group, that may provide the only points needed.
- South Korea: The Koreans have proven a surprise foe when an opening arises, besting China and Russia. Yeon Koung Kim ranks sixth among all players in points scored with 175 (145 kills, 21 blocks, 9 aces). The team may use Week 5 as a chance to introduce some other players to gain experience for the World Championships.
- Argentina: It is pretty much a surety that Argentina will be the challenger dropped into the relegation playoff, having won just two sets among its 12 matches. Regardless, the team has experienced the level of competition that lies ahead at the World Championships, but even one victory would go a long way to show progress.