2018 FIVB WOMEN’S VOLLEYBALL NATIONS LEAGUE – WEEK 3 / POOL 9
- May 29-31, 2018
- Omnisport Apeldoorn (Capacity: 2,000) | Apeldoorn, Netherlands
- Time Zone: GMT + 2
- World Rankings: #4 Brazil, #8 Netherlands, #10 South Korea, #22 Poland
Pool 9 features three top 10 teams in the FIVB World Rankings who have not disappointed and gone a combined 14-4 thus far in the Volleyball Nations League. Those three will duel it out with heavy implications on the line in the standings at the top, while Poland looks to steal a match or two as they have done thus far. Considering the Polish side is 2-4 and is the lowest ranked team in the pool, this group has all kinds of balance throughout and should be one of the more competitive.
|Date||Time||Score||Set 1||Set 2||Set 3||Set 4||Set 5||Total||Report|
|29 May||16:30||South Korea||–||Brazil||–||–||–||0–0|
|30 May||19:30||Netherlands||–||South Korea||–||–||–||0–0|
|31 May||16:30||South Korea||–||Poland||–||–||–||0–0|
Brazil has set themselves up nicely, but with an amazing five teams at 5-1, there isn’t much room for error. Of course, another in that quintet is Netherlands, who also sits at 5-1 with their only loss coming to the United States. The Brazilians and the Dutch appear to be the favorites in this pool because of that, with the winner re-affirming their top position.
The loser of the pool could drop to a spot where South Korea is right now – a solid 4-2 record, but in a tough spot to make the elimination round because of the wealth of 5-1 teams and a spot taken away by host China, who sits in eighth. Korea will be looking to make a move this week, as even a 2-1 week would do wonders considering they would get a victory over either Netherlands or Brazil.
Rounding out the standings for teams in the pool is Poland, who sits at 2-4. They will really have to start making a move now, and likely need to win all three matches to keep alive their final round opportunity. More likely is that they can play the role of a spoiler and continue to use this opportunity to grow.
If any team goes 3-0 in this pool it would be gigantic for their postseason chances. For Brazil and Netherlands, it would mean an 8-1 start and a near clinching of a playoff spot. It would mean even more for Korea, who currently sits just outside of the final round. Finally, for Poland, it would change their narrative and keep them alive in the overall picture.
Another possibility in this pool would be seeing a three-way tie in terms of wins with Brazil, Netherlands and South Korea going 2-1. The results of each of those teams will have a steep impact on the top of the standings and who makes it into the final round in a few weeks. A 1-2 or 0-3 week for either of the top three could be debilitating with the amount of high-win teams, so the pressure is on in Pool 9.
It’s hard to distinguish who is the favorite in the pool to have that strongest week, as Brazil and Netherlands are both 5-1. The South American side has won five consecutively since their opening loss to Germany and are the highest ranked team in the world rankings. The Dutch on the other hand aren’t too far behind and are the hosts of this group, so should have one of the best fan bases on their side.
South Korea and Poland will serve as the dark horses in this group, mainly the Asian side. In terms of point ratio, Korea actually sits at fourth in the overall standings. Unfortunately, two of the teams in front of them are in this pool in Brazil and Netherlands. Still, they should be quite competitive, and at least will need to draw a point or two if they suffer any losses so they don’t fall too far away from the final round playoff race.
STORIES TO WATCH
- Brazil – Outside hitter/wing-spiker Tandara Caixeta has been seemingly unstoppable in attack for Brazil, logging 81 spikes and 91 points for the South American team. In fact, Caixeta has more than 20 spikes and points than any other Brazilian. She’s also tied for second on the team with 0.95 digs per set. She does own a great leap, but at about 6’0″ tall it will be quite the clash when she faces a lengthy Dutch front line.
- Netherlands – Three different Dutch players have logged over 50 kills, with four over 40. Leading the way in that regard (67 spikes) and in points (80) is Anne Buijs. When the going gets tough, like it will be this week, it’s important for a team to find a reliable option. Buijs has been just that, and although Netherlands thrives with their balance and efficient offense, it will be important for her to step up when the team is in real need of a point.
- Poland – The Polish side has struggled to find balance, which could be exploited this week, but it shouldn’t be an indictment on Malwina Smarzek. The opposite spiker has an incredible 134 spikes and 159 points thus far. The next highest for Poland is 53 spikes and 76 points. Even if she doesn’t have the help around her, Smarzek is worth the price of admission.
- South Korea – With all of the high-level attackers in this pool, defense and blocking will be important. The good news for Korea is that they have a good one in Su Ji Kim (0.81 blocks per set). That helps her to rank third on the team in points (48) and provide balance to both sides of the court with a couple of strong options on the offensive side of the court.