With Iran becoming the seventh team to earn a place at the Finals of the Volleyball Nations League 2022 on Saturday, there’s only one spot left to play for at the tournament later this month in Bologna, Italy. And the Netherlands, Argentina and Slovenia will line up to claim it.
Last VNL Finals spot between the Netherlands, Argentina and Slovenia
The three teams will play for a place in Bologna on Sunday
Published 08:46, 09 Jul 2022
The teams currently occupy the eighth, ninth and tenth places in the standings and which team will compete in Bologna from July 20-24 will be decided on Sunday, when the Preliminary Phase comes to an end in Osaka, Japan, and Gdansk, Poland.
The Netherlands could have booked their place in the Finals on Saturday, but reigning world champions Poland were too much for them, winning their match in Gdansk in straight sets (25-19, 25-23, 25-22) and delaying a potential Dutch qualification.
Despite the result, the Dutch will control their own fate on Sunday, when they play Italy at 17.00 local time (15.00 GMT). With six wins and 17 points, they are currently in eighth place and will remain in that position regardless of other results, if they manage to defeat the Italians.
Argentina kept their dream of qualifying for the Finals alive for another day with their third consecutive four-set victory in Osaka. The South Americans caused an upset by defeating reigning Olympic champions France 3-1 (25-22, 23-25, 25-23, 25-19) in the opening match of the day, with outside hitters Ezequiel Palacios and Luciano Vicentin leading the way with 17 points.
In order to overtake the Dutch, the Tokyo bronze medallists, who have five wins and 17 points, will need to defeat the United States at 12.40 local time (3.40 GMT) and hope for an Italian victory later in the day.
“We played a really good match today,” Palacios commented. “It was a very difficult match, but fortunately we managed to win it. We are working every day to make it to the Finals and we need to keep doing that and to remain focused on our goal.”
The Slovenians, who didn’t play on Saturday, have the most complicated path to the VNL Finals among the three remaining contenders. With five wins and just 15 points, they need to beat Poland 3-0 or 3-1 at 20.00 local time (18.00 GMT) in Gdansk and hope that the Dutch lose to Italy in three or four sets and that Argentina fall to the United States by any score.
At the bottom of the standings, Australia have been confirmed as the 16th-place finishers of the VNL and will need to compete at this year's Volleyball Challenger Cup to try to return to the VNL in 2023. The Australians, who have just one win and two points, still have a match to play, but even if they sweep France, they'd still rank behind Canada, who have two victories and six points.