Turkey’s Ebrar Karakurt serves against Italy in Ankara
Lausanne, Switzerland, June 20, 2019 – Two of the teams that have secured their spots in the Final Six of the women’s 2019 FIVB Volleyball Nations League will face each other in the very last match of this year’s preliminary round. In the final build-up to the VNL climax in Nanjing from July 3 through 7, 2018 silver medal winners Turkey will entertain 2019 preliminary round leaders Brazil at 19:00 local time on Thursday at the Baskent Volleyball Hall in Ankara.
In their penultimate game of the league round on Wednesday, Brazil delivered a 3-0 (25-23, 25-15, 25-18) shutout of Belgium, holding the top of the table on an 11-4 win-loss record and 34 points and depriving the European team of their last hopes of making the cut-off. Ana Paula Borgo Bedani Guedes was the best scorer of the match with 14 points for the South American squad. Her teammate Gabriela Braga Guimaraes - Gabi, leader in the best receivers chart of the preliminary round, came next with 13.
Also on Wednesday, the home team lost a nail-biting five-setter to Italy. With 20 points from Indre Sorokaite, the Italians claimed a 3-2 (25-19, 17-25, 23-25, 25-15, 16-14) victory to stand second on 11-3 and 33 points. Turkey’s Ebrar Karakurt was the best scorer of the match with 22 points, as her team dropped to the fifth place on a 10-4 record and 30 points.
Brazil have lost only two of their 10 matches against Turkey in major world-level competitions. The two sides met twice in last year's VNL. Brazil won 3-1 in the preliminary round while Turkey prevailed 3-0 in the semifinals.
“Playing against Turkey is always difficult. Their coach Giovanni Guidetti knows our team well, they have a good block-defence system, they serve strong and they have the crowd on their side, so it will be difficult again and we’ll see what happens,” commented Brazil’s head coach Jose Roberto Guimaraes.
In the other Pool 17 game on Thursday, Italy, another participant in the Nanjing finals, will test themselves against Belgium (7-7), who feature the best server in the VNL, Marlies Janssens, at 16:00.
Pool 18 at the Beilun Sports and Arts Center in Ningbo will finish with a big clash between the reigning Olympic champions and the reigning world champions. After winning their first two games of the week at home, the Chinese are the clear favourites to win against Serbia’s young selection, who lost their matches on Tuesday and Wednesday. Led by super star Zhu Ting, the number 1 spiker of the tournament so far, the home team will try to further improve their 11-3 record ahead of hosting the Final Six. Will number one blocker Maja Aleksic and her teammates from Serbia (5-9) be able to stop Zhu and finish their participation in the 2019 VNL on a high note? This will become clear after 19:30 local time, when the first whistle of the match is set to sound.
Before that, at 16:00 on the same court, the Germany (6-8) of one of the best scorers in the tournament, Louisa Lippmann, will face Bulgaria (2-12) of best digger Zhana Todorova.
Thailand achieved a prestigious four-set victory over hosts Russia in their Pool 19 encounter on Wednesday to improve to 5-9. Captain Nootsara Tomkom, the best setter of the tournament so far, and her teammates hope to back it up with another win on Thursday against defending title-holders USA, who improved to 11-3 after a hard-fought five-set win over the Netherlands to stand fourth in the table. Thailand and USA will start their match at the Palace of Sports in Ekaterinburg at 16:00 local time.
The Russians (3-11) and the Dutch (5-9) will try to recover from their defeats on Wednesday as they meet each other at 19:00 in an attempt to finish the 2019 VNL with a victory.
The last team to secure a berth in the VNL finals was most likely to emerge from Pool 20 taking place at the Boryeong Gymnasium in Korea. And it did. Poland (9-5) won their first two games this week and will travel to Nanjing. With the pressure now off their shoulders, best scorer Malwina Smarzek and her teammates will play against hosts Korea (2-12), who desperately need to build upon Wednesday’s win over Japan and hope to bounce off the bottom of the standings. The game starts at 17:00 local time.
Two of the other hopefuls of a ticket to Nanjing until Wednesday, Japan and the Dominican Republic, each on a 7-7 win-loss record, will have to overcome their disappointment as they face each other at 13:30 in Boryeong, if they want to come out of the competition with a positive balance.
All VNL matches are available live and on-demand on Volleyball TV
June 19 – all results:
June 20 – full schedule: