Pool E will pit two of the world’s biggest volleyball powerhouses against each other, as Italy and Russia will measure forces in Assago. As only the top two of the second ranked teams of each pool will qualify for the third round, this means that the winner of this match-up gets a huge head-start and the loser will have to pray for the starts to align in the other 3 pools. Sadly for Finland and Netherlands, this means that they only have a very small punchers’ chance at advancing.
Story Lines To Watch
At the start of the tournament, we wrote in our Power Rankings that this was the perfect chance forIvan Zaytsev to prove he is deserving of the diva treatment he demands in the Italian league. That is just what he is doing, as he is having having a crazy tournament, leading it in scoring, hitting (63%), and serving. His numbers are crazy, but Italy’s first phase pool toughest opponent was Belgium. Can Zaytsev keep it up against Russia?
Current VNL Champions, the Russian squad os running the risk of paying dearly for its strategy to let go of the throttle in the WCH’s first round. The team that broke the competition’s record for best set win, when it beat Tunisia 25-6, rested some players and ended up losing tie break wars to the USA and Serbia. Egor Kliuka is currently the team’s best performer, which means that Maxim Mikhaylov and Dmitry Musersky have some stepping up to do, specially since their biggest opponents, Italy, is playing at home.