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.”