2o18 FIVB Women’s Volleyball Nations League – Week 4/Pool 16
- June 5th-7th, 2018
- Luczniczka arena, Bydgoszcz, Poland (capacity 8,764)
- Time Zone: GMT +2 (U.S. Eastern Time +6)
- FIVB World Ranks: #11 Argentina, #13 Germany, #13 Belgium, #22 Poland
|Date||Eastern Time||Local Time||Home||Visitor|
All 4 teams in this pool are firmly, albeit not officially, out of contention for the Final 6, with none having more than 3 wins. Technically, only Argentina and its 0 wins and 0 points are eliminated from the Final 6, but it would take a near-miracle for any of the 4 teams from Pool 16 to earn the 24 or 25 projected points to make the Final 6.
*Denotes teams in Pool 16
On first glance, this pool doesn’t appear to have much of interest to spectators outside of the respective fan groups of the 4 participating nations. In reality, though, the pool reveals an important sub-plot to the new Nations League format: the battle to avoid the bottom of the core teams.
3 of the 4 teams in this pool (Poland, Belgium, and Argentina) are considered “Challenger” teams by the FIVB. Challenger teams, as compared to core teams, are the 4 teams that are at risk of relegation out of the Nations League next season. At a date later this summer, which has not yet been named, the lowest-placed of the 4 challenger teams (Dominican Republic is the 4th) will play a two-leg series against the winner of the FIVB Challenger Cup to see who gets to play in next year’s Nations League.
Storylines to Watch
- Argentina – While Argentina is by no-means locked in to that position yet, they’re very much in a precarious position with just 6 matches left. A win against Belgium, who won 2 games in week 1 but have gone cold since, will be their most important target, as catching Poland seems least-likely. Argentina was thumped twice in last year’s Grand Prix Group 2 stage by Poland, with convincing 3-0 sweeps in each. 19-year old Anahi Florencia Tosi, in her senior national team debut, leads the team in scoring with 91 points through 9 matches. The Argentina offense has been anemic this summer – they rank last in kills (326), aces (18), total points earned (blocks+kills+aces – 384), and 2nd-to-last, ahead of only Japan, in blocks (40). Their total points earned is 108 fewer than the next-lowest team, South Korea, and they’ve won only 2 sets in 9 matches.
- Belgium – The Belgians have individual players performing well at almost every position, but it’s the hitters that have struggled the most. Entering the tournament as an expected strength of the team, especially after Britt Herbots broke through in week 1, and has led the team in scoring so far (117 points). The team ranks only ahead of Argentina and South Korea with a 34.8% hitting percentage, and only ahead of Argentina in hitting efficiency at .202. Ilka Van de Vyver is giving her young hitters chances, and ranks 2nd in the tournament with 10.59 sets-per-set where they’re hitting against 1 or 0 blockers, but after week 1, the Belgian efficiency has waned.
- Germany – Another team that started on a high note, beating Brazil 3-1 in their opener in week 1, before slipping since. They did get wins against Thailand and the Dominican Republic last week, though, to build some momentum for week 4. Their middle blockers Marie Scholzel and Lisa Grunding have been their strength.
- Poland – The team that feels most in contention for a hail-Mary run to the Final 6, if only because their offense led by Malwina Smarzek (214 points) is punching above its weight through 3 weeks (38.8% hitting, .253 efficiency). A sweep this week, which is entirely possible, should vault them into at least the top half of the table, though running down Turkey (who sit 5th right now with 19 points, and are also in a relatively-soft pool this week) seems like a very tall order. Those same 3 wins would guarantee their spot in next year’s Nations League.