Italy and Slovenia stay top after the second week of the 2024 FIVB Men's Volleyball Nations League


Article Mon, Jun 10 2024
Author: Adrian Costeiu

After the second week of the 2024 FIVB Men's Volleyball Nations League, two teams – Italy and Slovenia – are leading the pack, with seven wins and one loss, having each conceded a loss in Pools 3 and 4, which were played last week in Fukuoka, Japan and Ottawa, Canada.

Both Italy and Slovenia had an immaculate record after the first week, but Italy started their week on the wrong foot, with a 2:3 loss against France, as the reigning Olympic champions had a superb match, with outside hitter Trevor Clevenot scoring 19 points.

Twice had France taken the lead, but Italy bounced back admirably, as superstars Alessandro Michieletto and Daniele Lavia scored 19 and 16 points respectively, but failed to keep the pace in the decider, when they conceded a 10:15 loss against the reigning Olympic champions.

From that point on, Italy bounced back and dropped a single set, taking a 3:0 win against the United States of America (25:23; 26:24; 25:20), a 3:1 win against Cuba (25:21; 22:25; 25:19, 25:13) and a 3:0 win against the Netherlands (25:18; 25:15; 25:21).

Yet Italy’s dominating lead has somehow diminished, with Slovenia closely following up, with seven wins and one loss, but with a lower number of points, 18, compared to Italy’s 21, after the first eight matches.

Slovenia, which were also immaculate after the first week, enjoyed a great start of the week, with a 3:0 win over Türkiye (25:22; 26:24; 25:20), doubling down with their sixth consecutive win in the competition, 3:2 against Brazil (27:25; 23:25; 26:24; 21:25; 15:12), where opposite spiker Tonček Štern was literally unstoppable, with 29 points.

Tonček Štern is also the top scorer of the competition so far, with 173 points, eight more than Dutch start Nimir Abdel-Aziz.

Yet Slovenia stood no chance against hosts Japan, as they could only muster a set in front of the Asian side, conceding a 1:3 loss, before bouncing back and finishing off the week in style, with a 3:0 win against Bulgaria, a match they dominated from start to finish.

Poland, which are already qualified for the final round, due to hosting the knockout phase of the 2024 FIVB Men's Volleyball Nations League, are third in the standings, with six wins and 18 points, having secured wins against Bulgaria, 3:1, over Türkiye, 3:0, and Japan, 3:0, before being thoroughly dominated by Brazil, 1:3, with several players being rested in the last match by the European champions.

Another European team, France, are tied with Poland in the number of wins, six, and only one point behind the reigning European champions, as their loss against Cuba, 2:3, derailed their bid to top the table, after wins against Italy (3:2), the Netherlands (3:1) and Argentina (3:2).

Serbia (3-5), Germany (3-5) and the Netherlands (3:5) are just one win shy of the seventh and eighth places, currently held by Canada and Cuba, and will try everything to improve their record once the competition moves to Pools 5 and 6 the next week.

Bulgaria (2-6) and Türkiye (1-7) will need a clean sweep in the last matches and help from others to try and secure a top-8 placement, which would guarantee a place in the final round in the Atlas Arena in Łódź, Poland, but they will have a mountain to climb after a slow start.

The next two pools will take place between 18 and 23 June in Ljubljana, Slovenia and in Manila, the Philippines, with all the questions answered after the 32 matches are played.