The 2022 Volleyball Nations League will take place from May 31 to July 24 with women’s Week 1 pools in Ankara, Türkiye, and Shreveport-Bossier City, USA.
VNL 2022: Six teams to watch
These nations will feature some of the most entertaining squads in this year’s edition of the tournament
Pubblicato 12:30, 20 mag 2022
For 55 days, until July 24, the top 32 national teams in the world will battle in different locations on the planet, guaranteeing nearly two months of non-stop, elite-level volleyball.
Starting with the team that won the first three editions of the VNL is an obvious choice, but the Americans will again be fun to watch this season. Some key players in last year’s success, which previewed their victory at the Tokyo Games, are no longer around, including Olympic MVP Jordan Larson, legendary middle blocker Foluke Akinradewo and 2021 VNL MVP Michelle Bartsch-Hackley. However, coach Karch Kiraly still has a solid core with setter Jordyn Poulter, opposite Annie Drews, middle blocker Haleigh Washington and libero Justine Wong-Orantes all pushing younger players like middle blocker Dana Rettke and outside hitter Kathryn Plummer to perform.
The reigning European champions are yet to win their first VNL medal, but a look at their strong roster and current momentum confirms they can do well in 2022. The Italians have one of the key players of the tournament in star opposite Paola Egonu and a strong group of players surrounding her including libero Monica De Gennaro, middle blockers Cristina Chirichella and Anna Danesi and outside hitters Miriam Sylla and Caterina Bosetti. Those veterans will also help some of the team's rising stars, most notably opposite Sylvia Nwakalor, outside hitter Loveth Omoruyi and middle blocker Marina Lubian.
The host country of this year’s Final Round, Türkiye enter the fourth edition of the VNL determined to win gold after claiming silver in 2018 and bronze in 2021. The team coached by Giovanni Guidetti has all the tools to compete at the highest level of international volleyball with an explosive and productive opposite in Ebrar Karakurt and two of the best middle blockers in the tournament in Eda Erdem and Zehra Gunes. Star setter Naz Aydemir has retired from international volleyball but VakifBank Istanbul’s Cansu Ozbay has proved she is capable of performing at the same high level at the position.
The reigning champions will be eager to defend their 2021 title, especially after they left the Tokyo Olympics empty-handed for the first time since Sydney 2000. The team still includes some key veterans, like setter and captain Bruno Rezende, middle blocker Lucas Saatkamp and outside hitters Ricardo Lucarelli and Yoandy Leal, but saw other players step away. The international retirement of 2021 VNL MVP Wallace de Souza has generated an open battle for the starting opposite spot, which involves 2019 FIVB Volleyball World Cup MVP Alan Souza, his younger brother Darlan and late-bloomer Franco Paese.
The Olympic champions are yet to win the VNL, but that could change in 2022 after their confidence-boosting victory in Tokyo last year. The post-Olympic period was a little troubled for the French, with two coaches appointed in less than a year, but the team’s players who won gold in Tokyo last year, including MVP Earvin Ngapeth, opposite Jean Patry, setter Antoine Brizard and star libero Jenia Grebennikov, are available, and that makes France automatic contenders.
The reigning world champions came really close to winning their first VNL gold last season, when they took silver. Their roster remains almost as deep as it was in their last campaign. Captain Michal Kubiak and coach Vital Heynen are two notable absences, for sure, but with players like Wilfredo Leon, Bartosz Kurek, Karol Klos and Pawel Zatorksi on the court and an experienced and successful coach like Nikola Grbic on the sidelines, the Polish still have more than enough talent to top any podium.