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VolleyRuller96

Men's Volleyball FIVB Nations League 2018

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DAY 04 SUMMARY 

 

 

:POL Poland 3-0 :FRA France 
 

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odz, Poland,  June 1, 2018 – Poland kept their perfect record into the fourth leg of the FIVB Volleyball Nations League. At a sold-out Atlas Arena in Lodz, the home side delivered an impressive 3-0 (25-19, 25-20, 25-22) shutout of the other team on full nine points after the first week, France, and substitute Dawid Konarski had something to do with it.
 
He came in to replace star starter Bartosz Kurek when Poland were stumbling halfway through the second set and with a few fantastic performances at the net became instrumental to a spectacular turnaround that put the team back on track towards the straight-set victory. Playing their big part in this key moment of the match were also young middle blocker Jakub Kochanowski, as well as Mateusz Bieniek from the serving line.
 
20-year-old Kochanowski became the leading scorer for Poland’s victory with 11 points, followed by captain Michal Kubiak with 10.
 
France’s Stephen Boyer was the top scorer of the match with 13 points. His teammate Kevin Tillie also went into the double digits with 11.
 
It was a great overall team effort on Poland’s side to reach their fourth consecutive three-point win, masterminded by the clever moves of coach Vital Heynen and inspired by the unabated support from the stands.
 
Poland were trying to recover from a six-point deficit in the second set. After 13-17 Konarski attacked successfully twice to set his squad off on an amazing nine-point rally, which changed the course of the set and the match. Bienek went next with a 108.3 km/h ace. Konarski again, this time with a kill block, added another point to the series. Bienek did one even better, scoring from the serving line with a speed of 112.6 km/h. It was Konarski’s turn again – a spike off the opponents’ block pulled Poland further away. Kochanowski joined in on the fun, winning a joust and mastering a stuff block to register the next two points. Finally Konarski again shaped up the incredible comeback with a kill block for 22-17 Poland’s way...
 
Other than that, the host team were in control pretty much throughout the other two sets, with experienced Kubiak and Kurek setting the example and leading the way to this so important Polish victory.
 
:RUS Russia 3-1 :AUS Australia
 
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Sofia, Bulgaria, June 1, 2018 - Egor Kliuka inspired Russia to their 3rd FIVB men's Nations League victory in 4 games as they saw off Australia in 4 sets (25-18, 25-19, 18-25, 25-22) in the Bulgarian capital Sofia.
 
Kliuka is a maverick talent for Russia, capable of producing shots akin to French stalwart Earvin Ngapeth, and he was sumptuous in Sofia with 17 points, including 14 spikes from 26 attempts, as Russia stumbled to victory in this opening Pool 5 clash against a determined Australia outfit. 
 
Mark Lebedew's Australian underdogs gave it their all throughout the contest, and had the game's top scorer Lincoln Williams (23 points) and Jordan Richards (13 points) as their sharp shooters, but they didn't quite have the artistry or the power to force a deciding set against the Russians, who were a long way from their best. 
 
Russia, who began week 2 just inside the top 6, looked in cruise control when they took the opening 2 sets, but they dropped off in the 3rd set to allow the Volleyroos back into the match, before recovering their poise to win the 4th.  
 
Russia win but fail to impress 
This Pool 5 contest, with Australia 12 places below Russia at 16th in the world rankings, wasn't expected to pose an obstacle for the European champions, but it was much tougher than anticipated.  
 
Russia, who were beaten 3-0 by another title contender Poland last week which was sandwiched between 3-0 victories against Canada and South Korea, cruised through the opening 2 sets - thanks in part to a 6-point burst after being level at 12-12 in the opener - but it wasn't plain sailing after that. 
 
Sergey Shlyapnikov's men, who were without 8 key players, went to sleep in the 3rd set and paid the price. Leading 8-7 at the first technical timeout, Russia then lost control of the match with Richards and Williams beginning to boss things from spike range, and the exemplary duo eventually grabbed the set to halve the deficit for Australia. 
 
Russia also trailed 8-2 at the first technical timeout in the 4th with a decider suddenly looking probable, but the likes of Kliuka, Muserskiy, Konstantin Bakun and Anton Karpukhov - who produced a magnificent block to drag Russia back to within a point at 11-10 - inspired them to a brilliant comeback as they won in 4 sets to breathe a huge sigh of relief. 
 
Shlyapnikov's men also face Serbia and Bulgaria in Pool 5 and will be expected to record a clean sweep in Sofia, but they'll have to improve on this performance.  
 
Kliuka stars as Russian blockers dominate 
Russia have a formidable-looking team, with Kliuka providing the stardust from out wide, while Dmitriy Muserskiy - who had the highest block average per set and the best spike success rate in the Nations League prior to this match - has considerable aura in the middle of the court.  
 
Kliuka was electric. A wonderful block from the spike specialist to put Russia 12-8 in front in the 2nd set reminded everyone of his defensive qualities, he then pounced late on to make it 23-19 before another Kliuka block sealed the set. But it was an outrageous left-handed spike to put his side 3-2 in front in the 3rd set that got pulses racing - a trick few players can pull off. 
 
The Russian blockers - with Muserskiy contributing - also dominated. Ilia Vlasov (4 from 9 attempts) and Igor Philippov (3 from 6 attempts) made up the giant Russian wall that will surely keep more teams at bay in this Nations League.  
 
Australian revival falls short 
The Volleyroos had a dreadful record against Russia in men's world-level volleyball meetings heading into this match having lost all 10 of their encounters, but they will be buoyed by their 3rd set dominance. 
 
Williams' serves were unreturnable in the 3rd and Richards was landing spikes from all angles, but it was the introduction of Arshdeep Dosanjh by Australia coach Lebedew that changed the course of dominance at the net. Dosanjh disrupted Russia's blockers and grabbed 2 blocks from 2 attempts to steer Australia to the set. 
 
But despite a fantastic effort, Australia are now winless in 4 VNL matches and without a single point. 
 
Star man 
Egor Kliuka may have been outscored by a commendable performance from Australia's Lincoln Williams, but he played the big points when his country needed him most. 17 points, including 14 spikes and 2 blocks, from one of the most talented players in the men's game.
 
:USA United States 3-2 :JPN Japan

 
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Goiania, Brazil, June 1 - Benjamin Patch produced a powerhouse performance as the United States pulled off another escape act to eventually see off Japan in a five set thriller 3-2 (23-25 13-25 25-18 25-20 15-10). 

 

The Americans found themselves two sets down in their opening match against Argentina last week and after an astonishing opening to this encounter, Japan were in a similar position and smelling a first win over the side ranked no2 in the world since 1993. 

 

But thanks to the power of opposite spiker Patch - 14 spikes, one block - and Thomas Jaeschke - seven spikes - that record remains intact as does their unbeaten start in the VNL. 

 

You couldn’t help but feel for the Japanese who slumped to their second defeat of the tournament but none will be more heartbreaking than this. It was a wonderful start by Japan who stormed ahead thanks to a mix of errors from their opponents and brilliance from skipper Masahiro Yanagida and the excellent Tatsuya Fukuzawa who both ended up with 14 points. 

 

“It takes a team effort to win a game, “ said Patch. “ This was a big moment for us.”

The United States endured a long journey from China to South America for this latest round of VNL matches aiming to extend a 25 year hold over Japan and keep their unbeaten start to the tournament alive. 

 

Three wins from three have put the US in a great position and skipper David Smith was looking to lead his country to four triumphs on the spin at a world level tournament for the first time since 2015. 

 

Japan, with two wins and a defeat, arrived from their first week matches in France knowing with Brazil also on the horizon tomorrow, things aren’t going to get any easier yet with their own captain fantastic Yanagida scoring 31 points last week - Yuji Nishida was the top marksman with an impressive 51 including 45 spikes - they have enough in their locker to trouble any team. 

 

And certainly in the early exchanges, the Americans were left in no doubt this was to be a testing afternoon, - a rally at 2-2 was spellbinding stuff - though a lot of their problems were of their own doing. 

 

Midway through the first with Japan leading 13-10, 10 of their points had come by the way of USA errors. 

 

Nevertheless, it was a lively, energetic contest enjoyed by the Brazilian fans who were making their way into the arena ahead of the hosts’ clash with Korea. 

Japan were looking dangerous and when their first set point arrived, Nishida rose brilliantly to hammer down a spike. 

 

There were 14 USA errors in all - a tally which was simply far too high and double what their opponents racked up - while it was the opposite spiker who was top scorer with just four points! 

 

The Americans needed to improve. But with Japan riding the crest of a wave, they were 11-4 up and coasting. Wing spiker Fukuzawa was making his mark and taking advantage of a creaking US defense.

The no 12 team in the world were on fire. 

 

The errors from the second best on the planet, however, were continuing to appear. US coach John Speraw called a time out with the score at 20-9 and discussed with his coaching team the changes needed to kickstart his side into gear.

Something drastic was required because the Japanese onslaught showed no signs of slowing. 

 

Their rearguard was as impressive as their attacking intent - and that came to the fore on set point in the second when Fukuzawa ’s showed brilliant tenacity to keep the ball alive before Yanagida helped seal the deal.

Japan needed to keep their intensity alive if one of the greatest ever wins was to be completed yet as the third set began to take shape, it was clear that the US had finally awoken. 

 

Speraw’s side were nowhere near their best but had managed to creep 16-13 ahead thanks to some excellent work at the net from Taylor Averill while Patch’s fearsome power was beginning to make inroads into the Asian’s lead. 

 

Two set points went begging but Aaron Russell pounced to put the US on the scoreboard and begin to send doubts thundering through Japanese ranks.

Could Yuichi Nakagaichi’s men hold firm? At 9-9 in the fourth, the answer was very much in the balance. 

 

The American errors were creeping back in but Patch was keeping them afloat along with some brilliant work at the net which helped the US establish a two point lead and force a deciding set. 

 

Suddenly the momentum was with the US who were able to stay strong and win another thrilling five set match and leave their opponents, who will at least gain confidence from this as they build towards the 2020 Tokyo Olympics but saw their charge here fell apart after ending up with 39 errors compared to 29, utterly crestfallen.

 

:GER Germany 3-1 :CHN China

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Lodz, Poland,  June 1, 2018 – With a continuously improving performance by Christian Fromm, Germany beat China 3-1 (23-25, 25-18, 25-22, 25-21) in Lodz on Friday to register their first victory in the FIVB Volleyball Nations League.
 
Fromm delivered as many as 19 points to top the charts for Germany. Simon Hirsch kept him good company on the scoreboard with 13 points, including four stuff blocks, one ace and the successful hit that ended it all in the fourth set.
 
Two more German players went into the double digits. Marcus Boehme and Tobias Krick finished with 13 and 12 points, respectively.
 
China’s Chuan Jiang was the best scorer of the match. He added 24 points to his tally, but his efforts alone were not enough for winning more than one set.
 
With many Polish fans enjoying themselves on the stands at the Atlas Arena, China came from behind to win the first set, but Germany reacted by winning the next three and the match, putting both teams at a 1-3 win-loss record in the bottom half of the current VNL standings.
 
Hammering the ball at 120 km/h, Jiang got a four-point Chinese run underway in the first set. Libin Liu chipped in with a couple of aces, sandwitching in between another Jiang hit that squeezed the ball between the block and the net, to give China a 12-10 lead and never look back through the end of the set.
 
But Fromm had just warmed up with a couple of points in this first set and was ready to explode in the next three. He started the second set with a fantastic back row hit to give Germany the early lead and finished the set with a brilliant cross-court spike to level the match.
 
Hammering one point after another, Fromm really took the leading role on the squad from the third set on. At 9-9 in the fourth, he scored from the serving line to reverse a short-lived Chinese lead, and followed soon after with a 101.7 km/h pipe shot. Moments later, he showed his gentle side, elegantly tipping the ball over the block for the next German break point. China never recovered from this blow, while Germany celebrated victorious.
 
:BRA Brazil 3-0 :KOR South Korea
 
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Goiania, Brazil, June 1 - Eder Carbonera helped lead the way for Brazil as Korea were crushed in straight sets (25-21 25-19 25-19) to keep their VNL charge firmly on track. 
 
It was a wonderful homecoming for the Brazilians who delighted an energetic, packed Goiania Arena crowd with a devastating display which saw a superbly encouraging all round performance from Renan Dal Zoto’s side who take on Japan tomorrow aiming for more of the same. 
 
Top scorer Wallace wasn’t even needed so it was left for the excellent Carbonera who ended with 12 points (eight spikes, two blocks and two aces) and Evandro notched 10 points to cap a super show which will need to be replicated when the box office match-up with the USA rolls around on Sunday. 
 
Isac Santos (12 points) displayed his immense power as he spiked with unstoppable force while libero Murilo Endres kept things ticking over nicely. 
 
Korea, as always , battled hard and produced some quality- Jae-Duck Seo (seven points) and Kwang-In Jeon (seven points) were the standout performers yet matching Brazil’s power, panache and athleticism was a bridge too far. 
 
Minsu Jeong also produced some fearless defensive play but it wasn’t enough. 
 
It was always going to be a massive ask for Korea side who arrived in South America off the back of three defeats at the start of this VNL tournament so a meeting with the highest ranked team on the planet was never going to be easy. 
 
You have to go all the way back to 1992 to find the last Korean win over Brazil and after a blistering display from the hosts in the first two sets, the wait was going to ensue. 
 
There were stellar performances from a number of men in yellow - as they closed in on the second set Evandro and Luis Felipe had 15 points between them as the Asian side were simply blown away. 
 
The power of their attacking play in the second - 16 spikes compared to 12 - showed the difference between the teams. The serving quality of Carbonera, eanwhile, helped fire the home side forward with four aces. 
 
Korea, ranked 21 in the world, were refusing to wilt in the third and were hanging in with Kim producing some great blocks to bring his side into an 9-8 lead. 
 
Tha, however, was quickly eradicated and although the Koreans continued to have their moments, the tide was always with Brazil who sealed the win when Leonardo blocked superbly to leave their opponents rock bottom in the VNL and with the USA up tomorrow, it’s not getting any easier.
 
:SRB Serbia 3-2 :BUL Bulgaria

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Sofia, Bulgaria, June 1, 2018 - Drazen Luburic's superb display helped Serbia come from match-point down to snatch a stunning 5-set victory (25-17, 23-25, 23-25, 25-21, 16-14) over hosts Bulgaria in a thrilling FIVB men's Nations League match at the Arena Armeec. 
 
Luburic was absolutely vital to his side's cause as a poacher as he finished with 19 points, including a fierce spike to give Serbia match point, while Srecko Lisinac (14 points) was also instrumental as the visitors came from 2 sets to 1 behind to win a sensational match as they just about evaded the clutches of Bulgaria to record their 2nd victory in 4 VNL games.  
 
Bulgaria played their part in an unforgettable, high quality contest and looked increasingly stronger as the match wore on as they deservedly took a 2-sets-to-1 lead, with Todor Skrimov the game's top-scorer on 21 points and Nikolay Uchikov weighing in with 18. But, leading 10-5 in the 5th set, they crumbled when the going got tough as Serbia stepped up to win the match thanks to Petar Krsmanovic's ace. 
 
This was a thoroughly entertaining encounter with Serbia settling down early on to quieten a vociferous home crowd with some sensational volleyball as they cantered to the opening set. But Bulgaria came out firing with setter Georgi Seganov pulling the strings, while Skrimov and Uchikov acted as the attacking weaponry to haul Plamen Konstantinov's men in front. But Serbia forced a decider and then saved 2 match points in the 5th before taking victory in 2 hours and 37 minutes. 
 
Sizzling Serbia march on 
Serbia played with real verve and tempo with Luburic and Marko Ivovic providing the spikes, while Lisinac - who won 5 points from blocks - was a constant menace at the net. 
 
Krsmanovic served beautifully and setter Uros Kovacevic also had a fine game for a Serbian side that looked exquisite when at their free-flowing best. 
 
And after falling 2 sets to 1 behind, Nikola Grbic's men showed togetherness and defensive resilience to somehow snatch an unlikely victory and 2 precious points when it looked like they'd have to settle for 1 when trailing by 5 points in the 5th set. 
 
Bullish Bulgarians fight back 
Bulgaria went into this match in form having beaten China and Argentina in Week 1, but they looked overawed as the host nation early on as they were completely outplayed by a fluid and powerful Serbian side. 
 
But to their credit, Konstantinov's men, led by the excellent setter Seganov and flanked by the highly dangerous Skrimov and Uchikov, grabbed the game by the scruff of the net. 
 
The exceptional blocking duo of Svetoslav Gotsev (5 blocks from 22 attempts) and Viktor Yosifov (3 blocks from 9) were suddenly stopping Serbia at source and they took sets 2 and 3 (both 25-23) to take charge of the match. 
 
Bulgaria - with Uchikov and the captain Yosifov outstanding in the 5th set - looked like taking victory, but Valentin Bratoev had a meltdown by missing crucial spikes with the hosts on match point as Serbia came back to spoil the party.  
 
Star man 
Drazen Luburic was far from flawless and looked off at times defensively, but his 19 points - including a crucial spike to bring up match point - and incredible power proved the difference. 
 
:CAN Canada 3-1 :ITA Italy
 
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San Juan, Argentina, June 1, 2018 - Graham Vigrass produced a rock-solid performance as Canada brought Italy’s winning start in the Volleyball Nations League to a crashing halt with a 3-1 victory (22-25, 27-25, 25-23, 25-16) on Friday.

Vigrass led the way with power and precision and racked up 14 attacking points as the Canadians bounced back from losing the opening set to blunt their opponent’s fierce attacking options and clinch their second win of the tournament.

Stephen Maar joined Vigrass and offered a two-way threat, smashing down 11 winners while also chiming in with four crucial blocks. Maar was involved in what ultimately proved to be the turning point of the match, the final rally of the second set, that ended when captain Tyler Sanders tipped the ball downwards for a winner and leveled things at 1-1.

Osmany Juantorena struggled with an elbow injury throughout but fought hard for the Italians, who struggled for the kind of consistency that had seen it defeat Germany, Brazil and Serbia in the opening week of matches. Juantorena collected 14 total points, with Ivan Zaytsev blasting 15 in attack, but it simply wasn’t enough.

While the crowd in San Juan was mainly in attendance to see the host nation Argentina in later action against Iran, it appreciated a tense and entertaining affair that was decided by Canada’s resiliency.

Canada had looked determined from the start despite a 2-15 historical record against Italy and settled quickly in the first set. However, Italy came back into it thanks to Oleg Antonov, who swung things around with a dipping ace and a run of forceful serves. Juantorena secured the set with a block on the final point and Italy looked to be on its way.

Yet it was during the second that Italy began to wobble. Juantorena was visibly nursing his elbow and Zaytsev, who crushed 69 points in the opening three matches, was misfiring too often, both on serve and attack.

Indeed, the entire Italian service game was off kilter, with five straight faults late in the set. Italy kept responding with sideouts before its luck was extinguished as Sanders got the magical touch to take the set by the narrowest of margins.

With the match evenly poised, Canada seemed to want it more and was chasing down everything. Sanders cut his hand sprinting into the boards, necessitating a slight delay while his cut was treated, but it merely served to fire up his team further.

Canada maintained their slight advantage, Juantorena kept things tight with some heavy serving, but the last rally summed up the confusion in the Italian camp. After libero Massimo Colaci came up with a desperate dig from a Jason Derocco spike, no one responded in time and the ball was allowed to drift into the net.

The fourth set was one-way traffic, with Canada jumping out strongly and never looking back. Zaytsev rammed home another handful of winners but by now Italy was going for broke and committing far too many errors.

Canada cruised to the victory that has injected life into their VNL campaign after mixed results in the opening round.

The Italians will try to regroup when they take on Iran during day two of action in San Juan while Canada will take on the hosts Argentina. Canada now has six points from its four matches in the inaugural VNL, with Italy remaining on eight.
 
:IRI Iran 3-2 :ARG Argentina
 
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San Juan, Argentina, June 1, 2018 - Milad Ebadipour’s stunning attacking display helped Iran secure a nail-biting 3-2 victory (21-25, 25-22, 25-22, 24-26, 15-9) over Argentina in the Volleyball Nations League on Friday.

Ebadipour was the focus of his team’s offense and his consistent power proved crucial as host Argentina put up a stirring fight but were unable to capitalize on home court advantage and narrowly failed to grab their first VNL win.

The combination of Ebadipour (16 attacking points) and Amir Ghafour, who collected 10 winners, was critical as Iran piled on the pressure in the decisive fifth set to show nerves of steel once more. Head coach Igor Kolakovic’s team have now won their last six five-setters and were grateful for this, their second triumph of the tournament.

Argentina’s firepower came from the skillful strikes of Facundo Conte, who was instrumental in putting his side off to a strong start, then later spearheading a spirited fightback to pull things level. Ultimately, however, the home squad was left to rue a high error count that saw them rack up 40 mistakes over the course of the contest.

When the San Juan crowd shared their team’s disappointment at the eventual outcome, they were quick to pay tribute to Argentina’s effort, showering the players with a rousing standing ovation at the end of the game.

If not for a few key moments, things might have turned out differently. Argentina came out full of positive intent and rode the fine play of Cristian Poglajen to a first set victory, in which Poglajen got on the board five times before Agustin Loser clinched the frame with an imposing block on set point.
 
Iran had no intention of going away quietly and with Kolakevic demanding improvement, tightened up their game in impressive fashion. An inspired run of serving from Ebadipour was key in both opening up a late advantage and quieting the crowd, giving the visitors a lead they would not surrender.

Supported ably by the persistent efforts of Mojtaba Mirzajanpour and Seyed Mohammad Mousavi Eraghi, Ebadipour continued his streak of form in the third. After Italy started strongly and moved ahead through Conte and Bruno Lima’s attacking prowess, Iran chipped away at the deficit and saved their best play for the end. Two huge spikes from Ghafour secured set point, and Ebadipour blow to win the set was even more emphatic.

Argentina was not finished yet, and when Iran captain Saeid Marouf became frustrated as a couple of disputed decisions went the other way, the hosts opened up a five-point gap. Iran ground away and eventually came close to finishing the clash in four sets, before Sebastian Sole and Martin Ramos held firm when it mattered.

But Iran are the masters of five-set play and show exactly why in the decider. With relentless consistency and flawless sideouts, Iran got to the change of ends at 8-6 and never looked back from there. Appropriately, Ebadipour and Ghafour were the biggest contributors once more, before Farhad Salafzoon made the most of an Argentina error to seal the win.

Argentina’s schedule does not get any easier with in-form Canada next up, while Iran faces Italy on Saturday.
 
 
 

 

 

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PRELIMINARY ROUND STANDINGS
after 4 played matches

System:
1. FRANCE is automaticaly qualified as final 6 Host.
2. TOP 5 TEAMS after the preliminary round qualify for the final round.
3. If France is among the top 5 teams , THE 6-th RANKED TEAM also qualifies.

4. The 12 CORE TEAMS can not be relegated.

4. The WEAKEST PLACED  CHALLENGER team may be relegated from the competition if they lose the relegation playoff against the FIVB Challenger Cup (to be  played at a later date) winner.

Tie-Break Criteria:

1.Matches Won/Lost Ratio (MW/ML)
2. Points Achieved (3 PTS = 3:0 or 3:1 win ; 2 PTS = 3:2 win ; 1PTS = 2:3 defeat ; 0PTS = 0:3 or 1:3 defeat)
3. Set Ratio.

 

 

  Nation MW ML PTS SET 
1. :POL  4 0 12 12:1
2. :USA              4 0 10 12:5
3. :BRA  3 1 10 11:3
4. :RUS                                               3        1        9        9:4
5. :FRA QUALIFIED  3 1 9 9:5
6. :ITA  3 1 8 10:6
7. :JPN  2 2 7

9:8

8. :BUL CHALLENGER                               2 2 6 9:9
9. :CAN CHALLENGER 2 2

6

7:7

10. :IRI                 2 2 5 8:8
11. :SRB  2 2 5

6:9

12 :CHN  1 3 4 6:9
13 :GER  1 3 3 5:10
14 :ARG  0 4 2 5:12
15 :AUS CHALLENGER 0 4 0 2:12
16 :KOR CHALLENGER  0 4 0 0:12

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MEN'S Week 2, day 2 SCHEDULE (2 JUNE 2018)

all times are CEST
 

13:30 :BRA Brazil - :JPN Japan 

16:00 :SRB Serbia - :RUS Russia

16:00 :POL Poland - :CHN China

16:10 :KOR South Korea - :USA United States
19:00 :BUL Bulgaria - :AUS Australia 
19:00 :FRA France- :GER Germany
23:10 :IRI Iran - :ITA Italy

02:10 :ARG Argentina - :CAN Canada

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I just noticed now that Bulgaria is a challenger. Did their level go so down in the last 4-6 years?

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12 minutes ago, AlFHg said:

I just noticed now that Bulgaria is a challenger. Did their level go so down in the last 4-6 years?

Well, they are not as good as they were in for example  2006-2010 where they got bronze in World Championship, World Cup or Euro Championship, but they are still a very good team, definitely better than Japan or China. The distribution of teams is awful, but the Bulgarian Federation probably simply could not afford to buy their spot, unlike Japanese or Chinese federations.

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56 minutes ago, AlFHg said:

I just noticed now that Bulgaria is a challenger. Did their level go so down in the last 4-6 years?

 

Small nation, no big profit from us for FIVB.

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