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Women's VNL Pool 3: Opening with 2018 bronze medal rematch

Brazil block an attack from China's captain Zhu Ting during the bronze medal match of the 2018 FIVB Volleyball Nations League. The 2019 edition features a rematch of that Brazil v China game in Week 1.
Lausanne, Switzerland, May 9, 2019 - Reigning Olympic champions and 2018 FIVB Volleyball World Championship bronze medallists China are up against some intimidating opponents in the opening week of the 2019 FIVB Women's Volleyball Nations League, when they face the likes of host Brazil, Russia and outsiders Dominican Republic in Pool 3 at Brasilia, from May 21 to 23.

Volleyball Nations League - Pools overview

But, as was also the case last year in the inaugural edition of the VNL, China do not need to worry about qualifying for the Final Six. As hosts of that event, from July 3 to 7 in Nanjing, they can concentrate on the last stages of the competition and aim for the title that eluded them last year in the same location, after they lost to eventual champions USA in the semifinals.

China pick up the bronze medal in the inaugural FIVB Volleyball Nations League last year. But can they move up a notch this year for a shot at the title?

Last year China finished pool play on a 7-8 record in 9th place, but regardless carried on to make the medals round and end up with a bronze medal.

Their opening match this year against Brazil on May 21 is a rematch of the third-place-playoff that they won in straight sets last year to earn Volleyball Nations League bronze.

The shock of the five-set defeat to China at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games that knocked the hosts out of contention in the quarterfinals must surely be in the back of the minds of everyone in the Brazil camp. But the South American powerhouse have managed to pick up the pieces in the three years that have passed since then and can always look any opponent in the eyes.

Russia's Evgeniya Startseva tries to break through the Dominican Republic block when the two teams last met in the 2018 FIVB Volleyball Nations League.

Russia, on the other hand, still have a mountain to climb. They finished 8-7 last year in the VNL and failed to make the Final Six. In fact, they haven't won a world title since their success in the 2010 FIVB Volleyball Women's World Championship. And even at continental level, after back-to-back gold medals in 2013 and 2015, they dropped to 6th place in the 2017 European Championship.

It will be highly interesting to see how they can manage any potential comeback this year, especially in view of their other obligations later in the season, which includes them hosting a pool of the Olympic qualifiers for Tokyo 2020 and the 2019 European Championship.

Finally, the Dominican Republic enter Pool 3 as outsiders. However, the 'Queens of the Caribbean' always remain a force to be reckoned with, despite their waning performances since their historical high of 5th place at the 2014 World Championship.

Related articles:
Women's VNL, Pool 2: Can USA get a head start in defence of their title?
Women's VNL, Pool 1: How will Italy make their entry this year?

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