Volleyball giants set to rub shoulders again in Montreux
As the opening to the 2016 edition of the Montreux Valley Masters draws ever closer, some of the heavyweights of women’s international volleyball are preparing to fight for glory on the shores of Lac Léman once more. Six of the top 15 sides in the FIVB World Rankings will appear in Montreux, thus the oldest and most prestigious invitational tournament in the women’s game looks primed and ready to thrill volleyball fans across the world once again.
Reigning FIVB Volleyball Women’s World Cup champions China are amongst the favourites to secure the Montreux crown this year, but their champions’ credentials will once more be put to the test. The Chinese will feature in a strong Pool A; containing Turkey - current holders of the Montreux Volley Masters title - and a Brazil side who were crowned 2015 world champions in the U23 category.
Pool B also looks set to be a mouth-watering affair, with World Cup runners-up Serbia, 2015 Asian Championship bronze medallists and Montreux Masters debutants Thailand, and 2015 European Championship silver medallists the Netherlands set to do battle in a bid to secure one of the other two semi-final places on offer. A Belgian team with a giant-killing reputation adds further spice to the mix, and they will fancy their chances of securing gold as much as any of their more seasoned international opponents.
Hosts Switzerland are also back in Montreux after a one-year absence. In a bid to blood some of their young talent, they will field a youthful but talented side against their opposition in Pool A. An examination against some of the strongest teams currently gracing women’s volleyball will be a tough but beneficial test for a developing Swiss side, and their fans will be hoping that their aspiring young stars can step up to the plate against the very best in Montreux. Indeed, Swiss supporters will be relishing the possibility of raining on the parade of volleyball titans China and Turkey.
After scooping the bronze medal at Montreux in 2015, the Netherlands have also raised eyebrows in the volleyball world leading up to this year’s tournament. Having secured their place in Rio, national team coach Giovanni Guidetti announced that four of their most experienced professionals in Laura Dijkema, Lonneke Sloetjes, Debby Stam-Pilon and Maret Balkestein-Grothues would be rested and therefore will not feature in Montreux. With four youthful new faces in Britt Bongaerts, Tessa Polder, Celia Diemkoudre and Nicole Oude Luttikhuis coming into the international fold to replace them, the Dutch will be keen to prove a point in Montreux and build momentum ahead of their Olympic campaign. The new blood in the Dutch camp will certainly be keen to make a big impression; for three of them will be making their debuts in the “Oranje” jersey at this tournament and will be looking to force their way into Guidetti’s plans for the Olympics. Last year’s tournament was the starting point of a sterling season for Guidetti’s Netherlands, and they will arrive in Montreux raring to go in order to replicate or even better their third place finish in 2015.
The teams will play out the pools in a single round-robin qualification stage from Tuesday, May 31 to Friday, June 5, with three games scheduled to be played daily, at 16.30, 18.45 and 21.15 CET respectively. The two semi-finals and the medal games will be played out over the weekend.
The 2016 Montreux Masters tournament will also be at the forefront of cutting edge sporting technology, with the use of a brand new, state-of-the-art LED net, the first of its kind in Europe, and the revised challenge system coming into place for this year. This pioneering in modern technology in the sport will surely help make this tournament one to truly remember for volleyball fans all over the world; a tournament which will be delivered in remarkable style, a tournament for which the city of Montreux and fans around the globe simply cannot wait. All of the games will be broadcast live on Laola1.tv, and with some of the world’s greatest on show in a stylish, modern arena, the 2016 Montreux Volley Masters is set to be a competition which won’t disappoint.