100-day countdown begins for gripping 2019 Men's VNL
Russia's Egor Kliuka tries to get past the block of France's Kevin Le Roux and Jean Patry in last year's VNL final in Lille. The two teams start off the 2019 VNL with a bang, when they go head-to-head in the opening weekend.
The season starts with a bang in Serbia, as defending champions Russia are set up to meet France in a rematch of last year's final. The hosts and Japan complete that pool.
Meanwhile, reigning world champions Poland start off at home where they host this year's finals hosts USA plus Rio 2016 Olympic champions Brazil and Australia.
USA's Matt Anderson of the USA pushes the ball past Brazil's Wallace De Souza and Mauricio Souza in the bronze medal match of the 2018 VNL in Lille.
USA will host the Final Six from July 10 to 14 - an event they will organise for the next three years.
China entertain Germany, Iran and Italy, while Argentina host newly-promoted Portugal, Canada and Bulgaria in the remaining pools of the opening weekend.
Carrying on from last year's successful competition, the 2019 FIVB Volleyball Nations League continues on the same format of 12 core teams and 4 challenger teams per gender.
The men's core teams include Argentina, Brazil, China, France, Germany, Iran, Italy, Japan, Poland, Russia, Serbia and USA. The challenger teams are Australia, Bulgaria and Canada, plus Portugal who won last year's Challenger Cup to replace Korea who were relegated in 2018.
The Preliminary Round of the competition sees all teams play against each other over five weekends (with the women competing mid-week).
The top five teams at the end of the Preliminary Round join the hosts of the Finals to fight for the ultimate prize. The last amongst the Challenger teams is relegated to be replaced for 2020 by the winners of this year's FIVB Volleyball Challenger Cup.
Last year in Lille, Russia overwhelmed hosts France in the final of the VNL while USA outplayed Brazil for bronze.
The 2019 Women's FIVB VNL begins a little earlier, with the first round of play set for May 21-23.
The VNL marks the beginning of a thrilling pre-Olympic FIVB season, which also includes Intercontinental Olympic Qualifiers, Age-Group World Championships and the World Cup.
Quick links - Volleyball:
FIVB.com - Volleyball Nations League
FIVB.com - Volleyball
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