VNL 2024 to serve off on Tuesday in Antalya

VNL 2024 to serve off on Tuesday in Antalya
Fecha de publicación: 
13 May 2024
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The sixth edition of the Volleyball Nations League is just about to get underway. 2024 action will serve off on Tuesday in Antalya with the opening game between Bulgaria and the Netherlands starting at 17:00 local time (14:00 UTC). These are two of the eight teams to compete in the 16 Pool 1 matches this week, from Tuesday to Sunday.

In addition to pool hosts and defending champions Türkiye, in this group only the teams of Poland and France have already secured their berths at the Paris 2024 Olympic Games. All of the other five are still in the race for Olympic tickets, some well within reach, some right on the edge, and others with a very distant shot, so the hunt for precious FIVB World Ranking points is set to heat up right from the start.

While the Bulgarians are the lowest ranked team in the pool and arrive in Antalya with a young squad, having practically given up any hopes for an Olympic miracle, the Dutch are up there, currently holding the last qualifying spot above the cut-off line. With Canada breathing down their necks, just some 22 points behind in the chart, the Netherlands will be forced to storm the match in full force. While a win over Bulgaria will not add a lot to their score (3.82 points for 3-0, 1.32 for 3-1, or 0.01 for 3-2), a loss at the hands of the southern European team will cost them dearly (11.98 points for 0-3, 13.68 for 1-3, or 16.18 for 2-3).

Tuesday’s programme will also offer a big game between Italy and Poland, with the first whistle blowing at 20:00 (17:00). Italy are the highest ranked team without a ticket to Paris yet, but that’s no reason for relaxation as the situation could change quickly. Playing their four games in Antalya without many of their star players is a risk they are willing to take and only time will show if that risk was justifiable. A lot of ranking points could move from one team’s basket to the other’s depending on the outcome of this match, going from 9.37 Italy’s way to 10.63 Poland’s way in case of a straight-set game.

The other four teams in the pool will get their VNL campaigns underway on Wednesday. 2023 Volleyball Challenger Cup winners and Olympic hosts France will make their historic VNL debut at 17:00 (14:00) against Germany. The Germans will, of course, be keen to spoil the moment for their European neighbours as a 3-0 win could bring them 7.57 points towards the World Ranking, while a 3-0 loss could cost them as many as 12.43 points. Germany are the second team below the red line for Paris 2024 qualification. The gap between them and the Netherlands is quite wide, almost 80 points, but you have to start from somewhere, why not from shutting out the rookies...

The hall in Antalya can be expected to be packed with home fans as Türkiye start the defence of their historic VNL title on Wednesday evening at 20:00 (17:00) with a game against Japan, who are second in line for the Asian ticket to Paris, ranked some 25 points below China, but still within the general qualification area, some 17 points above the Netherlands or some 39 points above Canada. It will be difficult for them to beat Türkiye, but such an upset would bring them between 9.9 and 14.9 points in the Olympic race, while dropping between 0.1 and 5.1 points if they lose.

There will be plenty of exciting action throughout the remainder of the week in Antalya, but one can certainly look forward to Sаturday’s big clash between the world’s number one team Türkiye and the next highest ranked in the pool, number five Italy, and to Sunday’s edge-of-the-seat encounter between Germany and the Netherlands, which could make the race for Olympic berths even more interesting.

Türkiye (TUR) vs. Italy (ITA) women - Pool 1 - Preliminary Phase #4836989

The ambience in Antalya during last year’s VNL game between Türkiye and Italy


Meanwhile in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, the other eight VNL 2024 participants – Brazil, Canada, China, the Dominican Republic, Korea, Serbia, Thailand and the United States – will engage in the Pool 2 battles.

The VNL Preliminary Phase will feature three competition weeks per gender, with each of the 16 teams playing 12 matches. The seven best-ranked national teams in the Preliminary Phase will join hosts Thailand for the Finals, which will be held in Bangkok from June 20 to 23.

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