The Netherlands have yet to win their first match at the women’s Volleyball Nations League 2022, and their next attempt to achieve a victory will be against one of the toughest possible opponents in the competition. Pool hosts Brazil will entertain the Dutch team in Brasilia on Thursday at 21:00 local time (00:00 GMT on Friday morning) and will do their best to please the home crowd with their fifth victory in the competition.
Netherlands face tough challenge in quest for first VNL win
Brazil are the favourites in their home game against the Dutch
Published 05:38, 16 Jun 2022
The only game Brazil have lost so far in VNL 2022 was against USA a couple of weeks ago, when the reigning Olympic champions and defending VNL title-holders shut out the South Americans at home in a remake of last year’s finals in both competitions. It will be Brazil’s second match at home this week. On Wednesday, their captain Gabriela Guimaraes led them to a hard-fought four-set win over Turkey and to the fourth place in the current standings on a 4-1 win-loss record and 12 points. Meanwhile, the Netherlands opened their week in Brasilia with a four-set loss to Germany and stand 15th in the table on 0-5 and two points.
The head-to-head series between the two teams also points to Brazil as the heavy favourites. They have won 27 of the 29 games they have played against the Dutch at major world-level competitions, most recently a 3-0 (25-19, 25-19, 25-20) shutout in last year’s VNL Preliminary Round on June 19, 2021. On that occasion, Gabi Guimaraes and the Netherlands’ Celeste Plak shared the top scorer honours with 17 points apiece. The South Americans went on to finish the competition with a 14-2 win-loss record and the silver medals, before taking another silver at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games and a gold at the 2021 South American Championship. Gabi made it into the VNL Dream Team.
The Netherlands produced a 9-6 record in VNL 2021 to finish seventh, however. They missed the Olympics, but reached the semifinals of the 2021 CEV European Championship later in the season. One of their two victories over Brazil in history came in their penultimate encounter three years ago at the 2019 FIVB Volleyball World Cup, where the Dutch won in straight sets. However, they have not yet been able to beat their mighty opponents in a VNL encounter.
Coach Ze Roberto’s squad for this week in Brasilia features as many as six silver medallists from the Tokyo 2020 line-up. In addition to outside hitter Gabi, they include setters Macris Carneiros and Roberta Ratzke, outsides Rosamaria Montibeller and Ana Cristina de Souza, and middle blocker Ana Carolina Da Silva. The latter is the best blocker of the competition so far. With 30 stuffs to her name, she is nine clear at the top of the chart.
The Netherlands, who are getting ready to co-host the FIVB Volleyball World Championship later this year, have arrived in Brasilia with as many as 11 players from their successful EuroVolley squad, including outside hitter and captain Anne Buijs, setters Britt Bongaerts and Laura Dijkema, middle blocker Juliet Lohuis and libero Myrthe Dchoot, to name a few.
After Thursday’s game, Brazil will take on Italy on Saturday and Serbia on Sunday, before travelling to Sofia for the last week of the Preliminary Round. The Netherlands will have important games against the Dominican Republic on Friday and against Korea on Saturday. Their next VNL trip will be to Calgary.
Thursday’s VNL competition day has already started in Quezon City. The day in Brasilia will start with a match between Serbia and Korea, followed by an encounter between Italy and the Dominican Republic, before the Netherlands and Brazil take to the court.