2018 FIVB Men’s Volleyball Nations League – Week 5, Pool 17
- June 22-24, 2018
- Hisense Arena; Melbourne, Australia
- Time Zone: UTC + 10 (ET + 14)
- World Rankings: No. 1 Brazil, No. 3 Poland, No. 7 Argentina, No. 16 Australia
With two of the six contenders in the Final Six race, Pool 17 could have a major effect on final standings. Brazil sits in fourth place at 8-4 (24 points), while Poland is right behind at 8-4 (23 points). Both need a couple of wins to secure their spots with Italy and Canada still within striking distance.
Australia is the only team of the three coming into the week on a victory, having found its stride, going 3-0 in South Korea, downing the hosts as well as China and Italy.
The rest of the Pool 17 teams are looking to snap three-match losing streaks. Brazil fell to Canada, France and Bulgaria in its Week 4 stay in Bulgaria. Poland looks to shake off a terrible showing of three sweeps in the USA at the hands of Iran, the USA and Serbia. Argentina dropped all three of its matches in Germany on Week 4, against Russia, Germany and Japan.
Australia (5-7, 14 points) and Argentina (2-10, 9 points) are out of the Final Six race, but could still play the role of spoiler.
|Date||Local Time||Eastern Time (USA)||Home||Visitor|
|June 21.||6:40 p.m.||4:40 a.m.||Poland||Argentina|
|9:10 p.m.||7:10 a.m.||Australia||Brazil|
|June 22.||5:40 p.m.||3:40 a.m.||Australia||Argentina|
|8:10 p.m.||6:10 a.m.||Brazil||Poland|
|June 23.||12:10 p.m.||10:10 p.m.||Brazil||Argentina|
|3:10 p.m.||1:10 a.m.||Australia||Poland|
With just France having punched its ticket to the VNL Final Six, by virtue of acting as the host nation, the race is still wide open. Nine points are available per team with three matches left. As it stands, it will take at least eight wins to earn a Final Six berth, leaving 12 teams in play, although several would need help to break through due to the points tallies.
Brazil, Poland and Serbia are in the most precarious positions among the current Top 6 with 24, 23 and 20 points respectively. Italy is just one match out at 7-5 with 21 points in its pocket. Canada sits in eighth at 6-6, but boast 18 points. So, not only do Brazil and Poland need victories, they need them to come in three or four sets, to give themselves a little cushion in points.
What role will the momentum of Week 4 play in the fight to the finish on Week 5? As previously mentioned, Australia is on a tear after a 3-0 showing including an upset win over Italy, while the other three members of the field are struggling to find form as the tournament progresses. A couple more slip-ups by Brazil or Poland could see them on the outside looking in at the Final Six by week’s end.
Stories to Watch
- Brazil – Who will be setting and who will step up as an alternative weapon to star Wallace DeSouza? Bruno Rezende left the team’s match due to an apparent injury in Set 3 of a 3-0 loss to France. William Arjona took his place in the starting lineup as court director throughout on Sunday, although Rezende played as a substitute in three sets. The team has been unable to find a suitable replacement for Mauricio Souza, who is out with an abdominal injury. DeSouza, who ranks second among all players in scoring with 192 (161 kills, 17 blocks, 14 aces) continued to carry the load for the Brazilians on Week 4, but he cannot lead the team to victory alone.
- Poland – Who will step into the spotlight? Artur Szalpuk has scored 89 points, the most on the team (72 kills, 11 blocks, 6 aces). Bartosz Kwolek (61 points) and Michael Kubiak (68 points) have chipped in more than 50 kills apiece with 54 and 51 respectively. Damian Schulz took the role of top scorer vs. Iran, while Bartosz Bednorz was the lone double-digit scorer vs. the USA. While that could mean the team has great depth, it also means they haven’t found a go-to when they have needed it in tying times.
- Australia – The challenger team can make a big statement on why it belongs among the VNL field with a strong ending to the tournament and also carry the momentum ahead to the World Championships in September with a good Week 5 showing. A four-set upset over Italy and wins over a five-set win over Germany have shown flashes of the team’s potential. Thomas Hodges, Paul Carroll, and Jordan Richards took lead roles on Week 4, but Lincoln Williams also is more than capable having led the way early on.
- Argentina – Will there be a hangover after a near miss against Japan? Argentina was primed for its third victory of the tournament, boasting a 2-1 lead over Japan, only to succumb 25-23 and 15-11 to drop its final match of Week 4. The team piled up 15 blocks and had five players score in double digits and has shown good offensive balance. A similar effort could certainly throw a wrench in the plans of struggling Brazilian and Polish teams and give the team a strong base heading into Worlds in September.