Croatia (CRO) vs. Germany (GER) women - Pool 2 - Preliminary Phase #4802718

Croatia will be looking to return to the VNL after getting just two wins in 2023

A coveted spot in the Volleyball Nations League 2024 will be in play this week as the French city of Laval welcomes eight women’s national teams for the fourth edition of the FIVB Volleyball Challenger Cup.

Starting on Thursday, the eight national teams will compete for four days at the Espace Mayenne in a single-elimination tournament that will reward the winners with the last spot available in the next year’s VNL.

  • Watch Volleyball Challenger Cup 2023 live on VBTV

The tournament in Laval will have national teams coming from all five continents with Africa’s Kenya, Asia’s Vietnam, Europe’s Croatia, France, Sweden and Ukraine, North America’s Mexico and South America’s Colombia featuring as the contenders.

From the eight participants, Croatia are the only ones to have already taken part in the VNL. The Europeans won the Challenger Cup 2022, but were the lowest-ranked challenger side in this year’s VNL and will need to successfully defend their title in order to be back in 2024.

“We hope to play some good matches and remain in the VNL for 2024,” said middle blocker Božana Butigan. “We no longer have issues with injuries and are very confident that we can perform well and also get in better rhythm for the European Championship.”

Volleyball Challenger Cup – Match Schedule

Thursday, the first day of competition in Laval, will feature the first two quarterfinals, with hosts France playing Vietnam at 17:00 local time (15:00 UTC) and Croatia meeting European rivals Ukraine at 20:30 local time (18:30 UTC).

“The Challenger Cup is the gateway to the VNL and to a new world,” French coach Emmanuel Fouchet analyzed. “If we can get to the VNL, that would be a big boost for the team, not only in terms of experience and opportunities, but also in regards to improving our position in the world rankings. We were able to reintegrate some players who didn't play in the CEV Golden League and hopefully the team will be ready to perform from the start.”

The other two semifinalists will be known on Friday, when Mexico face Sweden, of star opposite Isabelle Haak, at 17:00 local time (15:00 UTC) and Colombia meet Kenya at 20:30 local time (18:30 UTC).

“Playing the Challenger Cup is an opportunity we never thought we would have, so we’re very motivated for it,” said Haak. “We’re really looking forward to competing.”

The semifinals will be played on Saturday at the same time, with the medal matches scheduled for Sunday.

Quick links:
Volleyball Challenger Cup 2023
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