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VNL semifinals: Players to look out for


Max Holt is USA's top blocker in the Finals

Lausanne, Switzerland, July 13, 2019 – A fascinating climax to the pool stages of the FIVB Volleyball Nations League Finals on Friday resulted in exciting semifinal matchups between two European squads Poland and Russia, and hosts United States against Brazil on Saturday.

After 126 matches, it has come down to only four teams with the winners advancing to the final on Sunday to decide which team will bring home the second VNL title.

Watch the video video to review some of the the players who have excelled for each team in the final pool play round and could be the heroes of the home stretch.

USA are all about teamwork and balance and they have four pillars to their successful campaign this year. Max Holt has provided an intimidating presence at the net by blocking 11 attacks, including the eight blocks that he made against France.

On floor defence, Eric Shoji provided that toughness in digging and reception and making setter Micah Christenson’s job easy in their last two matches. Christenson, on the other hand, showed a balanced distribution of sets and a great connection with his hitters. He also has a feisty serve that could spark the USA offence.

Victor Poletaev of Russia powers the ball past France during the Finals pool stage

Russia have demonstrated that any player can step up and produce the same intensity and effort as their stars did last year. The high-leaping Victor Poletaev led Russia in scoring in the preliminary round, followed by Ilyas Kurkaev, Egor Kliuka and Dmitriy Volkov.

Kurkaev is the best blocker of the Russian team, deflecting 30 attacks in the Preliminary Round and six in the final round so far. Volkov provides leadership in the team, just like last year when they captured the inaugural VNL title.

Poland, bannered by young players, are displaying world-champion form in the competition. Bartosz Bednorz, who ranked 51st in the best scorer category during the preliminaries, is now the top scorer in the final with a total of 42 points in two matches.

Poland captain Karol Klos raises his arms in celebration

Bednorz and Karol Klos are a good scoring tandem for Poland, with Klos providing more support on defence. Two-time world champion Klos leads Poland’s net defence with eight blocks.

Brazil have players in their line-up that have Olympic gold medals, including Ricardo Lucarelli, Wallace De Souza and Bruno Rezende. The formidable trio has also shown resilience in the two five-setters in the final round pool play. They suffered a loss against Poland, but made a great comeback against Iran to claim the final spot in the semifinals.

Lucarelli is the team’s best scorer and best spiker, while Wallace gives that vitality on their offence from the right side. Bruno, on the other hand, provides a masterful distribution of balls to his teammates, dishing out balls right into the hitter’s hand.