Lausanne, Switzerland, May 23, 2019 – The game between current table leaders Turkey and Serbia is the only one on Thursday’s VNL programme where two unbeaten teams will clash head to head, with one of them bound to suffer their first damages in the competition. Only two days into the women’s 2019 FIVB Volleyball Nations League, it has already become obvious that anything is possible in the race towards the finals in China.
Turkey and Serbia each marked their second Pool 4 victories at the Aleksandar Nikolic hall in Belgrade on Wednesday, as coach Giovanni Guidetti’s squad outplayed the Netherlands, and a very young line-up of the hosts defeated Korea, both in four sets, to position themselves first and second, respectively, in the standings. Which of these two teams will remain undefeated after the first week of competition will become clear after they face each other at 20:00 local time on May 23.
The last time they played against each other was at the finals of the 2018 VNL, when Turkey won in five sets before eventually reaching the silver. Serbia had won the previous seven encounters in major world-level competitions or European Championships.
"We are trying to grow with each match we play. We will have to try and find a way to match Serbia’s play," said Turkey’s spiker Meliha Ismailoglu.
“I guess the match with Turkey will resemble the one we played on the first day, against the Netherlands," Serbia’s coach Zoran Terzic commented.
In the other Pool 4 match on Thursday, the Netherlands and Korea will meet at 17:00 local time in a direct race for first win in the 2019 VNL.
In Pool 3, the Dominican Republic continued their sensational performance slamming another huge victory in Brasilia. After stunning Russia on the first competition day, the Caribbean Queens registered another historic first – a victory over mighty Brazil. Despite a smashing 29 points from Brazil’s Gabriela Guimaraes, the Dominicans persevered through to a 3-1 (25-22, 25-20, 22-25, 28-26) win, led by Bethania de la Cruz with 20 points.
On the third day at the Nilson Nelson Gymnasium in the Brazilian capital, the Dominican Republic will try to achieve yet another major feat as they play Olympic champions China at 17:00 local time. The Asian giants have yet to score their first victory after losing to Russia in four sets on Wednesday. "This is our last chance here to show a better game," said China’s middle blocker Wang Yuanyuan.
Each on a 1-1 win-loss record, Brazil and Russia will collide at 20:00.
With five stuff blocks and three aces within a total of 20 points, Haleigh Washington led USA to a 3-1 victory over Japan, their second in Pool 2, taking place at the Monbat Arena in Ruse. Yuki Ishii was the best scorer of the match on 23 points for Japan. Standing third in the current ranking, the Americans will try to continue their winning streak on Thursday as they lock horns with hosts Bulgaria at 20:30 local time.
"We expect a really tough match against Bulgaria,” said USA’s coach Karch Kiraly. “They play good volleyball and in addition they have the amazing support of their fans."
The home side will desperately try to please their fans on the stands with at least one win in Ruse, after they let it slip away against Belgium on Wednesday. The Belgians mounted a fierce comeback from two sets down to claim a 3-2 (19-25, 15-25, 25-22, 25-16, 15-13) victory. Britt Herbots contributed a total of 23 points, against 21 for Bulgaria’s best scorer of the match, Miroslava Paskova, as the thrilling plot unfolded. On Thursday, at 17:00 local time, Belgium will challenge Japan.
"We expect a completely different game, because we face an Asian team with shorter players. So we have to put a lot of pressure in our serves in order to complicate their quick style and combinations," commented Belgium’s captain Ilka Van de Vyver.
Poland delighted the home fans with their first win at the Stegu Arena in Opole, as they defeated Germany in four sets, with the fantastic contribution of 32 points from Malwina Smarzek. Louisa Lippmann scored 23 times for the opponents. On the third competition day, the hosts will have a tough task against Thailand at 20:30 local time. After losing to Italy in straight sets on Wednesday, the Thais are also on a 1-1 record.
"I'm happy that we didn't have to play the fifth set against Germany, because we saved some energy for the next game,” said Poland’s experienced setter Joanna Wolosz. “The match-up with Thailand will be difficult, but I believe we will show better volleyball. Now it gets harder with each game, because our opponents know how we play.”
Unbeaten Italy and winless Germany will open the last competition day in Pool 1 at 17:00 local time. “This is the next high-level game and we want to use it well,” German captain Lena Stigrot pointed out. “A match against Italy is a good challenge, just what we need to get better. We look forward to it and we are not afraid of our opponents."
All VNL matches are available live and on-demand on Volleyball TV
May 22 – all results:
May 23 – full schedule: