China's captain Zeng Chunlei encourages her teammates
Lausanne, Switzerland, May 22, 2019 – After an upsetting 3-1 loss to the Dominican Republic on the first competition day of the women’s 2019 FIVB Volleyball Nations League, Russia will try to rebound on the second, but face a tough challenge against Olympic champions China, who also started off on the wrong foot against the hosts in Brasilia.
Both on a 0-1 win-loss record, China and Russia are set to meet at the Nilson Nelson Gymnasium in the Brazilian capital at 17:00 local time, in one of eight VNL matches scheduled on Wednesday.
China have won seven of their last eight matches against Russia at major world-level competitions, including a 3-0 victory at the 2018 VNL and a 3-1 win at the 2018 World Championship.
"We played with passion, but need to get into rhythm. We need more time to evolve. Every match matters to us. The Brazilians are passionate about volleyball and we love to play in front of crowded stands," China's captain Zeng Chunlei commented after the 3-0 loss to Brazil, in which Gabriela 'Gabi' Guimaraes top-scored 20 points.
First day winners Brazil and Dominican Republic will lock horns in the second Pool 3 match of the day, starting at 20:00 local time.
Poland also hope to bounce back at the Stegu Arena in Opole as they face Germany at 20:30 local time, after coming just short in Tuesday’s hard-fought battle with Italy. Despite the return of Poland’s star setter Joanna Wolosz and a smashing 28 points from Malwina Smarzek, the Italians made good use of Indre Sorokaite’s 27 points to overcome the hosts in a dramatic tie-breaker and start off with a 3-2 (25-15, 25-22, 18-25, 21-25, 17-15) win before meeting their next opponent. On Wednesday, at 17:30 local time, they will go up against Thailand, who hammered out a straight-set victory over Germany on day 1 of Pool 1.
“It will not be an easy game against Germany. Every team wants to score points here and I am sure that our rivals will want to take their chance to defeat us,” said Poland’s coach Jacek Nawrocki.
"Italy are a very good team playing perfectly on high balls and it will not be an easy match for sure. We have to be focused on the game and play our top-level volleyball. Our serving will be very important as we have to put pressure on them since the very beginning,” commented Thailand’s coach Danai Sriwacharamaytakul.
The day’s action will once again get started with the participation of defending title-holders USA. With a 19-point contribution (including five aces) from opposite Andrea Drews, the Americans made a perfect 3-0 start against Belgium and already look forward to their second opponent in Pool 2 at the Monbat Arena in Ruse. It should get tougher for them as they will face the team of Japan, also a winner on Tuesday. The Japanese disappointed the home crowd in Ruse by managing a four-set victory over hosts Bulgaria. The Japan vs USA match will get underway at 17:00 local time. Bulgaria and Belgium will look for their first win starting at 20:30.
“Japan are one of the legendary programmes and they always have a strong team, so we know nothing will come easy," Karch Kiraly, the head coach of USA, pointed out.
Great “pancake” save by Japan’s Miya Sato against Bulgaria
Over in Belgrade, at the Aleksandar Nikolic hall, hosts Serbia will try to score their second victory in Pool 4 as they entertain Korea at 17:00 local time. The reigning world champions mastered an emphatic shutout of the Netherlands on Tuesday with young star Tijana Boskovic piling up 25 points along the way, despite a great performance of opponents’ playmaker Laura Dijkema, whose 18 running sets put her on top of the best setters chart as it stands after the completion of the first competition day. At 20:00, the Dutch will try to recover despite the tough task of going up against last year’s silver medallists Turkey. In their opening game, the Turks showed no mercy for Korea to claim a straight-set victory.
All VNL matches are available live and on-demand on Volleyball TV
May 21 – all results:
May 22 – full schedule: