• June 3, 2023

The men’s race is almost here, who are the favourites and dark horses?

The men’s VNL 2023 is almost here. There are too many superstars to miss without Korea.

An intense Week 1 of the FIVB Volleyball Nations League Women 2023 (VNL) is coming to a close. All matches in Week 1 will conclude on 5 May at 2pm ET when USA takes on Turkiye. This means that the start of the Men’s Week 1 schedule is just around the corner. It will take place in Ottawa, Canada, and Nagoya, Japan, from 6 to 12 June, the day after the conclusion of Women’s Week 1.

Although Korea will not be represented, volleyball fans will still have plenty to look forward to as some of the world’s biggest superstars will be gracing the courts. Out of the 16 nations competing in the VNL, here are three favourites and two dark horses.

Favourites ① Italy (FIVB World No. 2) – Will the golden generation be crowned for a second consecutive time?
Italy’s line-up at the 2022 FIVB World Championship was dominated by players in their 20s. The trio of Alessandro Micheletto (OH, 2001), Yuri Romano (OP, 1997) and Daniele Lavia (OH, 1999), as well as the team’s field general Simone Giannelli (S, 1996), are at an age where they will be at the top of their game for years to come – a golden generation, to say the least.

Coach Ferdinando De Giorgi’s faith in the golden generation has not wavered at the VNL. Superstar Ivan Zaitsev, who failed to make the roster at the last World Championships, was not selected this time. Can Italy’s golden generation follow up the World Championships with the VNL and start a dynasty?

Favourites ② Poland (World No. 1) – 2nd-3rd Poland has done it all, now they just need to win it all
Reigning world number one, volleyball powerhouse Poland has dominated just about every international competition they’ve played in. They’ve won Olympic gold (Montreal 1976), world titles (1974-2014-2018), the World League (VNL’s predecessor) (2012) and the European Championship (2009).

However, Poland has yet to win a VNL title. They finished third in 2019 and 2022, and second in 2021. They will be looking to win their first title at this event. The core of the World Championship runners-up Bartosz Kurek (OP), Kamil Semeniuk-Alexander Slivka (OH) and Jakub Kohanowski-Mateusz Wieniek (MB) are all in the roster, as well as Wilfredo Leon (OH), who missed the last World Championship due to injury. They have the quality to win the title.

Favourite #3 France (World Ranking #3) – Defending champions France have a chance to avenge last year’s disappointment
France are the defending champions of the VNL. They defeated the United States in the final of last year’s tournament in a tight full-set match. It was a strong performance for France, who had four winners in the tournament’s best seven, including tournament MVP Erwin Ngape (OH), as well as Trevor Clevenot (OH), Jean Patry (OP) and Xenia Grevenikov (L).

Having won gold at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, there were expectations that France would be the ‘GOAT’ team after winning the Olympic, VNL and World Championships in succession, but they had to settle for a quarter-final finish at the last World Championships. This VNL will be their second consecutive victory, and they will be looking to take a step towards the ‘GOAT’ once again. 메이저사이트

Darkhorse ① Serbia (ranked 11th in the world) – Superliga winners conquer the twin towers of the VNL?
Last season’s winners of the Italian Superliga, the world’s top men’s volleyball league, were Itas Trentino. Trentino narrowly defeated Lube in the best-of-seven series, 3-2. At the centre of Trentino’s victory was the Serbian MB duo of Marko Podraskanin-Srecko Lysinac. Although Risinac will now be leaving Trentino, the two Serbian middle blockers were Trentino’s twin towers throughout the season. Podraskanin was second in the league with 0.62 blocks per set, while Risinac was sixth with 0.6.

In addition, Podraskanin was second and Ricignac was fourth in the middle blocker roll, which combines serving, attacking and blocking. With the twin towers, Aleksandar Atanasijevic (OP), Uros Kovacevic (OH) and other top-notch players, Serbia can aim high.

Darkhorse ② Cuba (World No. 12) – If they don’t forget their heartbreak and disappointment
The FIVB Volleyball Challenger Cup was held in South Korea in July last year, with the winner of the tournament earning a spot in the VNL, and it was Cuba who came out on top. They defeated Turkiye in the final to claim the one and only ticket to the VNL. After the Challenger Cup, Cuba also participated in the World Championship, but it was cut short by Italy in the round of 16. It seemed that it would be some time before they could recapture their former glory of world domination.

Then, in June 2023, Cuba finally took to the VNL stage. With the hunger for the VNL from the Challenger Cup and the disappointment of their World Championship performance, this is a squad that will be looking to bounce back. Osniel Merregalejo (OH, Milan), Jesús Herrera Jamie (OP, Perugia) and Marlon Jant Herrera (OH, Roubaix) are among the many top-level forwards. Another familiar name to V-League fans is Roberlandi Simone Artis (MB, Piacenza).

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