The FIVB Women’s Volleyball Nations League is one of the most prestigious international competitions in the sport. It is set to return this year where all the leading nations in women’s volleyball will be competing for the trophy.
Here is everything you need to know about the event, including the format, previous winners, and the players to look out for.
Italy: The Defending Champions
Italy won the tournament for the first time in 2022 when they defeated Brazil 3-0 in the final in Turkey. It was an impressive campaign by the Italians, as they had wins over China (3-1) and Turkey (3-0) in the quarterfinals and semi-finals respectively.
After winning 10 of their 12 matches in the preliminary round, Italy was ranked third in the final round. United States was the top seed, but they were surprisingly beaten 2-3 by Serbia in the last eight. Second seeds Brazil was unable to win a set in the final.
It was a big improvement from Italy as their previous best finish came in 2018 when they were fifth. The victory proved they were good enough to compete with the best teams on the international stage.
United States Host Nation for Final Round
The United States will host the 2023 Women’s National League, with the final round set to be played in Arlington at College Park Center. The hosts will be the team to beat this year as they bid to win the trophy for the fourth time.
Up to 7,000 spectators will be able to watch the action in the multi-purpose arena in Arlington. It is home to the UT Arlington Mavericks in the NCAA and Dallas Wings in the WNBA. The United States won the gold medal in 2018, 2019, and 2021, they will be hoping the home support can spur them to another success this year, should they reach the final round.
It is the first time in the history of the Women’s National League that the final round has been held in the United States. China hosted the opening two editions in Nanjing in 2018 and 2019. In 2021, the final stages were played in Europe, as Italy was handed the honor, while last year, Ankara was the host city.
Format for 2023 Edition in Arlington
The competition will run from May 30 through to July 16. A total of 16 teams from four confederations will compete in the event. Brazil, China, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Serbia, South Korea, Thailand, Turkey, and the United States are the core teams, while Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, the Dominican Republic, and Poland are the challenger teams.
The 2023 Women’s Nation League is broken into four phases. In week one, Turkey, Canada, Italy, Poland, South Korea, Serbia, Thailand, and the United States will face each other in pool one in Turkey. Pool two takes place in Japan where the hosts will be joined by Brazil, Bulgaria, China, Croatia, the Dominican Republic, Germany, and the Netherlands.
In week two, the pools get shuffled up. Pool three is played in Hong Kong between China, Bulgaria, Canada, Dominican Republic, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, and Turkey. Brazil hosts pool four, and they will welcome Croatia, Germany, Japan, South Korea, Serbia, Thailand, and the United States.
Week three is the final week of the preliminary round. Korea hosts pool five, with South Korea, Bulgaria, China, the Dominican Republic, Germany, Poland, Serbia, and the United States involved. In pool six, Thailand is the home team alongside Brazil, Canada, Croatia, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, and Turkey.
At the end of those three weeks, the top eight teams in the standings will qualify for the final round. The draw for the knockout stages is based on their ranking at the end of the preliminary round.
Busy Time for International Sport
The 2023 Women’s Nations League comes at a busy time of the year on the international sports calendar. The Federation Internationale de Volleyball (FIVB) will be hoping viewing figures around the world will be strong this year.
With the event being held in Arlington, the organizers will be optimistic that there will be lots of interest in the United States, despite the tournament taking place at the same time as the NBA Finals.
The NBA Finals are scheduled to take place between June 1-18. One of the teams which have qualified for the playoffs this year is the Cleveland Cavaliers. Some sports bettors will be backing them to go all the way this year. The 2016 winners are +3300 in the bet online in Ohio market for the NBA Finals. Those looking to place a bet in the state can now do so legally, as betting there became legalized in January 2023. Bettors can also pick up a risk-free bet with one of the leading sportsbooks reviewed by OddsChecker.
In one of the other major sports leagues in the United States, the NHL, the Stanley Cup Finals are also played in June while the Women’s Nations League is taking place. Sixteen teams will be competing to book their spot in the series in June.
Elsewhere in June, the US Open takes place in California. The Major Championship will feature the leading golfers in the world at the Los Angeles Country Club. Englishman Matt Fitzpatrick will be the defending champion after he won the trophy in 2022 in Brookline, Massachusetts.
Players to Look Out For
Here is a look at some of the players to look out for during the 2023 Women’s National League.
Brenda Castillo (Dominican Republic)
Libero Brenda Castillo has a lot of experience playing international volleyball for the Dominican Republic. She made her debut in 2007 and since then she has featured in the Olympics, World Championships, and various other events.
Castillo takes her place in the backfield for the Dominican Republic, she plays that role as well as anybody in women’s volleyball. Her side is known for having a strong defense and having a digger who can execute plays as well as she can, which is a huge advantage.
The 30-year-old has played in numerous countries in the world in her club career. She will be very familiar with the leading attacking players at the 2023 Nations League, and she will be hoping to ensure they do not score heavily against her side.
Andrea Drews (United States)
Experienced United States player Andrea Drews was named the Most Valuable Player at the 2019 Women’s Nations League when her side lifted the trophy. It would be no surprise to see her win that award for a second time this year as she has been in excellent form over the last 12 months.
Drews top scored a lot of the matches she was involved in at the 2022 edition of this event. She is going to prove to be a big weapon for the number four-ranked team in the world standings.
Zehra Gunes (Turkey)
Middle blocker Zehra Gunes has won medals at various levels for Turkey. She is now an important player for the senior women’s team as she is the captain of the current team, so she will be hoping to lead Turkey to success.
Gunes plays her domestic volleyball for VakifBank Istanbul. She was named the Most Valuable Player in the 2021-22 Turkish Women’s Volleyball League. The Turkish player was also honored with the Best Middle Blocker award at the 2022 FIVB Volleyball Women’s Club World Championship.
Enjoy all the action from the 2023 FIVB Volleyball Women’s Nations League. Hopefully, it will be another fantastic edition of the international competition.