Shortly after the 2022 edition of the Volleyball Nations League was completed on Sunday, fans around the world can expect more exciting international action as the Volleyball Challenger Cup prepares to get underway in Croatia for the women and Korea for the men. The event will be played over four competition days, from July 28 through 31, with all matches available live and on demand on Volleyball TV.
Volleyball Challenger Cup battles coming up in Croatia and Korea
All games will be streamed live on Volleyball TV
Published 03:00, 27 Jul 2022
The Volleyball Challenger Cup returns to the international calendar after a two-year break, due to the pandemic. Its third edition will take place under a new knockout formula with teams participating from all continental confederations. In addition to the trophy and the medals, the participants will also play for a berth at the 2023 edition of the Volleyball Nations League, which will be granted to the winners in each gender.
In each tournament, two matches will be played every day. The quarterfinals will be split between competition days one and two. The semifinals will be played on July 30 and the medal matches on July 31.
VOLLEYBALL CHALLENGER CUP - MEN
The men’s tournament, which will be held at the Jamsil Student Gymnasium in the South Korean capital Seoul, will start at 15:30 local time (06:30 GMT) on Thursday with the first quarterfinal between Cuba and Chile, an all-American clash between the highest ranked representatives of NORCECA and CSV, respectively, not already participating in the VNL. The two teams also met in the pool stage of the inaugural edition of the Volleyball Challenger Cup in 2018, and the Cubans claimed a four-set win. In 2019, they stopped just short of qualifying for the VNL after losing the final in Ljubljana to hosts Slovenia.
Thursday’s second quarterfinal in Seoul will start at 19:00 local time (10:00 GMT), and involve Volleyball Challenger Cup rookies Australia and hosts Korea. The Volleyroos were the lowest ranked Challenger team in the final VNL 2022 standings, which means they will have to fight for a place in the elite tournament with another seven teams aiming to take their place. The Koreans have also played in the VNL before. The two teams met during the inaugural edition in 2018 with the Aussies claiming a 3-1 victory. They also emerged with a win from the five-set battle that unfolded when they last met, at an AVC Tokyo Olympic qualifier in 2020.
Friday’s programme in Seoul will open with the third quarterfinal. Türkiye and Qatar will take to the court at 12:00 local time (03:00 GMT). The Turkish team were the first to book their spot in the Volleyball Challenger Cup 2022 by winning last year’s edition of the CEV European Golden League. Qatar, on the other hand, will represent the AVC as their highest-ranked non-VNL team. Unlike Türkiye who finished fourth when they first appeared in the Volleyball Challenger Cup in 2019, Qatar will mark their first participation in the competition. It will be the first encounter between these two teams in official international competition.
The last semifinalist will emerge from a duel between Tunisia and Czech Republic. The representatives of the CAVB and the winners of this year’s European Golden League will face each other at 15:30 local time (06:30 GMT) on Friday. While Tunisia are complete newcomers to the Volleyball Challenger Cup, the Czechs played in the first edition in 2018 and reached the final only to lose to hosts Portugal and settle for silver.
On Saturday, the winners of the Korea v Australia quarterfinal will lock horns with the winners of the match between Türkiye and Qatar. The other semifinal will set the winners of Cuba v Chile and Tunisia v Czech Republic against each other.
VOLLEYBALL CHALLENGER CUP - WOMEN
Belgium and Czech Republic will open the women’s Volleyball Challenger Cup, which will take place at the Visnjik sports centre in the Croatian coastal city of Zadar. The first quarterfinal between the two European sides will get underway at 17:00 local time (15:00 GMT) on Thursday. Belgium will make their Volleyball Challenger Cup debut after finishing VNL 2022 in 15th place, as the lowest-ranked Challenger team. The Czechs, who reached the final of the Volleyball Challenger Cup in 2019, and lost in five sets to Canada, will make their second appearance in the competition as European Golden League 2022 runners-up. The two teams last met almost five years ago, when Czech Republic claimed a four-set victory over Belgium in the pool stage of EuroVolley 2017.
Tournament hosts Croatia will open their campaign later on Thursday, at 20:00 local time (18:00 GMT), with a quarterfinal match against Kazakhstan. It will be the second time the Croatians take part in the Volleyball Challenger Cup. Back in 2019, they finished fourth. Kazakhstan, who arrive in Zadar as representatives of the AVC, will make their debut in the competition. When the two sides last met head to head at the 2017 FIVB Volleyball World Grand Prix, the Asian team took a four-set victory.
Colombia will take on France in Friday’s quarterfinal at 17:00 local time (15:00 GMT). The South American representatives are coming back for their second Volleyball Challenger Cup participation. At their rookie appearance in 2019, Colombia reached the final and lost to Bulgaria to settle for silver. Volleyball Challenger Cup first-timers France, who are also preparing to host the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris, qualified for the tournament in Croatia as the winners of this year’s European Golden League.
Following their withdrawal from the competition, Cameroon have forfeited their quarterfinal against Puerto Rico (for more information click here). Puerto Rico won bronze at their previous and only participation in the Volleyball Challenger Cup, in 2018, and will play in the semifinals on Saturday.
Saturday’s semifinals will feature the winners of Croatia v Kazakhstan against Puerto Rico, and the winners of Belgium v Czech Republic against the winners of Colombia v France.