2018 FIVB VOLLEYBALL WOMEN’S WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP
The “So You’re Saying There Is a Chance” Tier
The following teams are mere role players in the tournament, and should benefit a lot from exposing its national players to the best competition in the world.
#24- Trinidad & Tobago – This will be Trinidad’s first ever WCH
#23 – Kenya – Political conflicts within the Kenyan Volleyball Federation has turned the team to only a shadow of its former self
#22 – Kazakhstan – Slowly growing into a relevant team at the Asian scene, but still four years away from being four years away
#21 – Cameroon – The most relevant team in the African continent. If it continues to export its players to top European leagues, additional major growth is to be expected
#20 – Cuba – Political conflicts within the Cuban Volleyball Federation has turned the team to only a shadow of its former self (notice a trend here?)
#19 – Mexico – Barely relevant in NORCECA, the Mexican team would need about 12 Samantha Bricios in its roster to contend
The 1 in 100,000 Chances Tier
The following teams will bother the tournament’s top dogs, and may even steal a win or two from them.
#18 – Argentina – Argentina is a team that has been slowly improving in continental play, but threw out its chances at a deep run when it kicked its captain and most important player, Yamila Nizetich, off the team due to relationship problems with the coaching staff.
#17 – Puerto Rico – Has been on a downward spiral for the last couple of years
#16 – Azerbaijan – Polina Rahimova is a one-woman-show
#15 – Canada – Slowly becoming more relevant in the NORCECA scene, it still has a lot of catching up to do with its tougher older sisters
#14 – Dominican Republic – Very athletic, long, exceptionally coached team. But still too young.
#13 – Thailand – An exciting team with a lot of defensive prowess. However, it relies too much on its star setter Nootsara Tomkon. She needs more help!
Long Shots Tier
The Fans’ Favorite Dark Horse Candidates
#12 – Germany
A hard working, disciplined team, the German squad is slowly building itself back up to its better days. Its domestic league has produced some quality talent as well, which means that this group will have a lot of room to grow in the future
Louisa Lippmann has dazzled international fans with her scoring ability on a a few high profile tournaments before. She is leaving Germany to play at the Italian league for the first time in her career and now it is time to show she belongs.
#11 – South Korea
The South Koreans play textbook Asian style volleyball with a lot of tactical discipline. However, the team is very thin and top heavy to really contend at this level.
As always, all eyes on be on superstar Kim Yeoun-koung. However, she is not getting any younger and her mileage is starting to show.
#10 – Bulgaria
One of the hardest working teams in Europe, Bulgaria really got the short end of the stick when Elitsa Vasileva went out with an injury earlier in the year. Without her firepower, the team will have a lot of trouble.
Youngster Gergana Dmitrova is the heir to the Vasileva throne. She better get used to the pressure.
#9 – Russia
The Russian squad has been on a deep downward spiral lately in competitions that matter. That is mostly because it is overly dependent in its Goncharova-Kosheleva duo. Since one half of the that duo is out (Koshelava will miss the tournament due to injury), Russian fans have every right to be worried.
With Kosheleva out, Goncharova will have to work overtime. That load may just be too much for her to handle.
#8 – Japan
Although not the powerhouse that won every kind of gold medal possible in the 60’s and 70’s, Japan is still a very solid team. It plays very discipline, tactical, defensive volleyball which is a pain in the nerves of its more talented competition.
The powerful lefty Miyu Nagaoka will leave Japan for the first time in her career to play in the mighty Italian League. This will be her chance to prove she belongs among the world’s best.
#7 – Italy
Italy is still 100% committed to its rebuild. However, this also means that the team is taking to Japan a roster full of teenagers, as the team has 9 players in its roster younger than 22. All Italian players are very, very talented. But talent itself is not enough in this kind of competition. This is where the big girls come out to play and being able to control your nerves goes a long way towards winning
Paola Egonu is only 19 years old and has dazzled Italian fans for some years now. The current Montreux Volley Masters MVP will have to keep healthy in order for Italy to have a deep run in the tournament. Without her, the Italian squad is just any other mid-tier team.
Anything less than a podium finish for the following teams will be considered as a disappointment.
#6 – Netherlands
The Dutch team gets better with every year. The team is entering this year’s WCH after finishing 4th at the 2016 Olympic Games and second at the 2015 and 2017 European
Championships. The absence of star middle blocker Robin de Kruijf will hurt its podium pretensions a little, but fans are allowed to dream big regardless, as any team
that has in its roster Laura Dijkema, Celeste Plak, and Lonneke Slöetjes can knock out even the toughest of opponents.
Laura Dijkema is slowly making her case for one of the best setters in the world. A good performance at this year’s WCH can defiinetely tip the weights in her favor.
#5 – Brazil
Even a bad Brazilian team is a good Brazilian team. Take into account also the fact that the team, despite boasting 2 Olympic, and 12 Grand Prix gold medals, has never
won a WCH title, and you got yourself a very motivated team.
Fernanda Garay is sure to deliver. Natália Zilio, Thaisa Daher, and Dani Lins are nowhere near their best playing shape, so they can’t be counted much upon. Thus, what
can elevate Brazil’s playing from mid to high-tier is Tandara Caixeta‘s play. She has signed a big bucks contract in China recently and now it is the time for her to
finally prove she is big time.
#4 – Turkey
After Goze Kirdar and Neriman Ozsoy decided to retire and Naz Aydemir communicated team staff that she’d not participate at the WCH to focus on getting pregnant, fans
were apprehensive. It turned out that there was no need to fret, as the team has performed greatly even without its main stars, medalling at the VNL and Montreux
Masters. Turkey has a very high powered offensive game and there is no reason to believe it will be scared off from its competition now.
22-year-old setter Cansu Ozbay ha s filled in masterfully for Naz, winning the best setter award at the VNL and Montreux Masters. We are watching the birth of a superstar
#3 – Serbia
The fact that Serbia is taking to this year’s WCH most of its 2016 Olympics roster is enough to let fans know to expect something great, as that silver medal squad is full of firepower. The team ran through its competition at the 2017 EuroVolley for gold as well, so it has proven it knows how to win.
Maja Ognjenović is one of the most responsible players for Serbia’s evolution into a volleyball superpower. The fact that she can still put her hitters into optimal hitting positions even though she often works with subpar receiving lines is a testament to her talent. Her return to the team is a good omen for Serbian fans.
#2 – USA
The current VNL Champs are on fire and ready to defend their title against the world’s best. The USA is taking a very deep, talented team to this year’s WCH. Its squad mixes youth and experience better than any other roster in the tournament. The fact that any team can boast an outside line up featuring Michelle Bartsch-Hackley, Kim Hill, and Jordan Larson is a mind boggling fact of its own.
More important than having elite talent at all positions of the court and bench is knowing how to give each player enough court time. Who will be benched among Hackley, Hill, and Larson? Looks like coach Karch Kiraly will have the toughest job of any coach in the fiend and will really have to shine in order to motivate and play his team the right away.
#1 – China
Although the current Olympic Champions greatly under-performed at this year’s VNL, it is obvious to fans that the Chinese squad simply wasn’t concentrated and motivated enough in the competition to play at its best. The WCH, however, is a whole different kind of monster, one that the Chinese sport bosses must seriously covet, leaving China’s team with no chonce but to play at its absolute peak. When it does, it is a very well-oiled machine.
Whenever Ting Zhu plays, she’ll always be the center of addition due to her amazing skill and physical abilities. This time, it will be no different, as she will be eager to improve on her silver medal finish in 2014.
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