Lausanne, Switzerland, June 28, 2016 – The FIVB Volleyball World League 2016 Preliminary Round reached the halfway point over the weekends, and here are a few things we picked up.
1. Undistracted Serbia focus fully on World League title
As one of the few Group 1 teams not qualified to the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, Serbia can afford to concentrate on the World League title this season and reach their peak in time for the Final Six in Krakow.
And they’ve been doing that with huge success so far, remaining the only undefeated team, after a 3-1 victory over Brazil in Belgrade this past weekend.
As coach Nikola Grbic begins to build a team for the next Olympic cycle leading up to Tokyo 2020, Serbia have been producing some exceptional performances, including a record-shattering 20 aces against Brazil (7 by Srecko Lisinac alone).
2. Brazil build momentum in build-up to Rio 2016
The Olympic Games hosts are still fine-tuning their team ahead of Rio 2016, but they remain right there amongst the leaders of this season’s World League.
Despite a setback against Serbia, Wallace quickly led Brazil to a rebound over the past weekend, dominating the action on the net with his attacking and blocking.
Regardless of the World League outcome, Brazil are gradually but surely building up momentum to lead them to Rio for a shot at claiming the Olympic title they so dramatically lost to Russia four years ago in London.
3. Russia are coming back with wide range of solutions
After their worst season in World League history last year, Russia are slowly getting back on their feet again.
Despite going down to the likes of France and Argentina this weekend, Dmitiy Muserskiy is still the man to beat on the net, with some impressive attacking performances.
The defending Olympic champions also provided alternative solutions, producing four different top scorers in their six matches so far.
4. Canada show Rio 2016 qualification was no one-hit wonder
Canada extended their winning streak this past weekend, to remain the only undefeated team in Group 2.
The results of the North American side so far prove that qualifying to the Rio 2016 Olympic Games last month in Tokyo was no fluke.
Moreover, coach Glenn Hoag demonstrated that there’s more to his team than the usual suspects, when sub Toontje Van Lankvelt stepped up to the plate last weekend, coming off the bench to lead Canada as top scorer in their win over Portugal.
5. Greece emerge from the shadow to start rebuilding World League glory
Despite missing some key players during pool play, Greece are gradually coming back in the World League with a dynamism they lacked in previous seasons.
Led by some impressive kill ratios from Andreas Frangos and Rafail Koumentakis, Greece still needed a combination of results to make it through to the Final Four of Group 3, but have clearly set themselves as the team to watch out for.
After a ten-year hiatus, Greece returned to the World League last season and in the space of two seasons are in with a fighting chance for promotion to Group 2 –though the semifinal against Slovenia is expected to be a totally different affair to Greece’s win over the European Championship silver medallists in pool play.