After a long, long journey, victory is sweeter than anything else. Which team will have the last laugh after the fierce competition?

The 2023 FIVB Volleyball Nations League (VNL) is about to begin. It kicks off today (30 May) with a match between Germany and the Netherlands. The VNL will run from 30 May to 17 July. For almost two months, the teams will be travelling and playing in different countries.

A total of 16 teams will participate, each with their own goals. To find out who will have the last laugh on this long journey, we take a look at the favourites to win.

  1. Serbia
    The first favourite is Serbia. They won the bronze medal at last year’s tournament. For them, the bronze medal was worth more than that. It wasn’t just the performance of their main guns, but their rising stars. Serbia’s leading star, Tijana Boskovic, was not present. Instead, it was the fearless performances of the newcomers that earned them the bronze medal.메이저사이트

At the centre of it all were outside hitter Ana Bielica, outside hitter Sarah Rojo and centre Maya Aleksic. Sara Rojo was a force to be reckoned with, averaging 12 points per game. She’s not a big player at 5’10”, but she has a quick swing. In the centre, Maya Aleksic held up. He was third in overall blocked shots and used the fast break as his main weapon. She also showed her strength in blocking at the 2019 VNL and made her presence felt at the last tournament.

Serbia has a lot of changes from the previous edition. This time, Tijana Boskovic and Maya Ognjenovic have been named in the 30-player reserve list. Their presence alone is enough to intimidate opponents. However, they were left off the roster for Week 1. Replacing the veterans are bronze medallists Sarah Rojo and Ana Bielica, as well as middle blocker Maya Aleksic.

Aside from the roster, there are also changes at the top. Out goes Italian coach Daniele Santarelli, who was with the Serbian national team at its peak in 2022, and in comes Giovanni Guidetti. The new head coach boasts an impressive list of achievements from his six years at the helm of the Turkiye women’s national team, during which time the team finished runners-up at the 2018 VNL, runners-up at the 2019 European Championships and reached the quarter-finals of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. It will be interesting to see what Guidetti can achieve with Serbia.

Serbia are the highest-ranked team in the world, at No. 1. They have been consistent in international competitions, finishing third at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, third at the 2022 VNL and winning the 2022 FIVB World Championship. At the 2023 VNL, they will also be aiming for the highest possible finish.

  1. Italy
    Defending champions Italy are also better than ever. Led by coach Davide Mazzanti since 2017, Italy also boasts a strong line-up of players. World-class opposite hitter Paola Egonu has been named in the squad. He recently helped his club, Vakivvank, to victory in the 2023 CEV Champions League Final. Egonu scored 40 points in that match, his third individual Champions League podium finish.

Egonu is a believer, but we don’t yet know if or when he’ll play. Italy, however, have another card to play with in the form of Apojit Yekaterina Antropova, a solid prospect born in 2003. The 6ft 2in outside hitter has been outstanding for Italy’s Sabino del Vene Scandicci this season, helping them to the European Volleyball Federation Cup 2023 title.

Italy, who lifted the trophy last year, also have their sights set on the top. Setter Alessia Oro, outside hitters Miriam Scilla, Katarina Bosetti and Apojit Egonu, middle blockers Anna Danesi and Marina Rubian, outside hitters Christina Kirikela and libero Monica Den Gennaro are all back.

There are no major changes from the last tournament, so they are strong. The Italians, who are also top of the league, will be looking to finish at the top of the table for the second year in a row.

  1. Brazil
    After finishing second at the 2022 VNL, Brazil will once again challenge for the top spot. Much like Serbia at the time, they were led by young players rather than veterans. One such player is 2000-born Kishi Nasimento, who played as a mainstay at the apogee. He was 12th overall in scoring, averaging nearly 10 points per game, and has established himself as the next big thing. Her hitting ability and left-handed attack from 191cm make her an attractive option. Along with Kissy, Julia Bergman has also made a name for herself. The 22-year-old outside hitter has been compliant in receiving, which is the calling card of the position. She is also a powerful and balanced player on offence.

There are also high hopes for Fenerbahçe’s Ana Cristina. She was the main outside hitter for Fenerbahçe this season and helped them win the title.

This time around, however, things are different. Brazil is the oldest team in the VNL. The average age of the 16-team roster is 27.5 years old. A number of veteran players are back. Starting with middle blocker Taissa Menezes, who was born in 1987, there are eight players over 30, including setters Fernanda Macris and Silva Roberta Hatzke and outside hitter Priscilla Darroit.

If the rookies have ambition, the veterans have seasoning. The higher average age of the roster is matched by a number of experienced players. Outside hitter Gabby and middle blocker Erika Carroll, who won silver together at Tokyo 2020, will be among the players competing.

The new-look Brazilians, who won silver at Tokyo 2020 and silver at VNL 2022, will be hungry for gold.

  1. USA
    One of the most harmonious teams in the sport, the USA is ranked fourth in the world. There was also some good news for the Americans. Jordan Larson, the MVP of Tokyo 2020, has returned to the national team. After the Games, it was expected that he would retire to coach at the University of Texas. However, on 4 May, Larson announced his return to the national team on social media.

Larson has had a stellar international career for the United States. She won silver at London 2012, bronze at Rio 2016, and finally gold at Tokyo 2020.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *