The FIVB Volleyball Women's World Championship is set to take place in the Netherlands and Poland from September 23 to October 15. This is a look at the four Phase 1 pools, 24 participating teams and what to expect when Arnhem in the Netherlands, Gdansk and Lodz in Poland play host to the first stage of the competition.

Pool A in Arnhem: Netherlands, Italy, Belgium, Puerto Rico, Cameroon, Kenya

  • Co-hosts the Netherlands finished fourth at last year’s EuroVolley 2021. They were also fourth at the last World Championship in 2018 and at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. They ranked 11th at the 2022 edition of the Volleyball Nations League.
  • 2018 World Championship runners-up Italy qualified for the 2022 edition as 2021 European champions.
  • Italy’s 23-year-old star opposite Paola Egonu was the 2018 World Championship’s top scorer on 324 points and the EuroVolley 2021 MVP.
  • Belgian outside hitter Britt Herbots topped the best scorers chart at the 2021 and 2022 editions of the VNL.
  • Puerto Rico lost the 2021 NORCECA Championship final to the Dominican Republic in the tiebreaker, but qualified for Netherlands-Poland 2022 as continental runners-up.
  • Cameroon are reigning African champions with three back-to-back titles in 2017, 2019 and 2021.
  • Kenya represented Africa at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games last year, before picking up the African Championship silver.

Italy claimed a four-set semifinal victory over the Netherlands at last year’s CEV European Championship, on the way to winning the continental crown. That match took place in Belgrade, but now the Dutch ladies will have an opportunity to get back at Paola Egonu and her teammates when they meet again in Pool A’s top encounter, especially with the home crowd on their side.

The team from neighbouring Belgium can expect some solid support from travelling fans in Arnhem too. The pool programme will also provide Kenya with an opportunity to avenge their 2021 African Championship final defeat when they meet Cameroon again.


Italy’s Paola Egonu in action at Tokyo 2020

Pool B in Arnhem and Gdansk: Poland, Türkiye, Dominican Republic, Korea, Thailand, Croatia

  • Poland reached the final of the first-ever World Championship in 1952. The co-hosts of the 2022 edition are currently ranked 13th in the world.
  • Türkiye reached the final four at all four editions of the VNL and at the four most recent editions of the European Championships.
  • Giovanni Guidetti’s team are currently in position six in the FIVB World Ranking.
  • In 2022, the Dominican Republic finished ninth at the VNL. They finished eighth at the Tokyo Olympics in 2021.
  • South Korea made the semifinals at last year’s Olympic Games, where their star striker Kim Yeon-Koung was the tournament’s second best scorer on 136 points.
  • Thailand were the silver medallists at the most recent editions of the Asian Games in 2018 and the Asian Championship in 2019.
  • Croatia will play at the World Championship finals for the first time since 2010, when they finished 17th. In 2021, they earned a CEV European Golden League silver.

Pool B is probably the most open of the four Phase 1 pools, with all six teams in with a chance of progressing to the next phase of the competition. Still, if one has to pick a favourite, it would most likely be Türkiye, who have shown the most consistency in their recent performances. However, with Joanna Wolosz and Magdalena Stysiak on the court, and the country’s amazing fans cheering from the stands, Poland may well turn into the dominating force in the pool.

Asian rivals Korea and Thailand, as well as the Dominican Republic and Croatia, are in no way to be underestimated, however. They all have enough talent at their disposal to play a major role as the first pool phase unfolds.

Poland’s Joanna Wolosz at the Tokyo 2020 European qualification tournament

Poland’s Joanna Wolosz at the Tokyo 2020 European qualification tournament

Pool C in Arnhem and Lodz: USA, Serbia, Germany, Bulgaria, Canada, Kazakhstan

  • Seven years after lifting their first-ever World Championship trophy in 2014, USA celebrated their first Olympic title in Tokyo, led by tournament MVP Jordan Larson. They are the current number one team in the World Ranking.
  • USA head coach Karch Kiraly was the first man in history to claim Olympic volleyball titles as both a player and a coach.
  • Serbia’s stellar squad will appear at Netherlands-Poland 2022 as the defending world champions.
  • 2018 World Championship MVP Tijana Boskovic also led Serbia to two European titles and two Olympic medals. She was the best scorer at last year’s Tokyo Olympics where she contributed 192 points towards her team’s bronze medals.
  • Germany fell just short of making it to Tokyo 2020, after losing to Türkiye in Europe’s continental qualification tournament final.
  • In 2021, Bulgaria won the CEV European Golden League trophy.
  • Canada’s most recent medal was a 2021 NORCECA Championship bronze.
  • CSV representatives Kazakhstan finished 24th at the 2018 World Championship.

The clash between reigning Olympic champions USA and defending world champs Serbia will certainly be the highlight of Pool C. USA claimed an Olympic semifinal victory against their opponents last year, but with a player like Tijana Boskovic, Serbia certainly have what it takes to claim a victory this year.

While Kazakhstan may be considered somewhat of an underdog in the pool, a tight three-way race to join USA and Serbia in the second phase of the tournament, featuring Germany, Bulgaria and Canada, looks likely.


USA’s Jordan Larson in reception during their Tokyo 2020 semifinal against Serbia

Pool D in Arnhem: Brazil, China, Japan, Colombia, Argentina, Czech Republic

  • World number two team Brazil’s 2021 record included silvers at the Tokyo Olympics and the VNL and a gold at the South American Championship. They followed up with another silver at the 2022 VNL.
  • 2016 Olympic champions and 2018 World Championship bronze medallists China are currently the number four team in the World Ranking.
  • Reigning 2019 Asian champions and 2021 VNL semifinalists Japan are the continent’s second highest ranked team, at number seven in the world ranking.
  • Colombia qualified for the World Championship finals for the first time in history by reaching the 2021 South American Championship final, where they took their third consecutive continental silver.
  • Argentina finished 11th at last year’s Olympic Games and third at the 2021 South American Championship.
  • The Czech Republic’s most recent podiums came in 2019, when they won the European Golden League and a Volleyball Challenger Cup silver.

The clash between Brazil and China will certainly attract the most attention in the Pool D programme. Even with Chinese star Zhu Ting missing from coach Bin Cai's team, the 2016 Olympic champions are expected to be among the candidates for World Championship honours, despite finishing only sixth at the 2022 VNL. Tokyo 2020 silver medallists Brazil will be chasing a first world title.

While Japan are clearly another key team in the pool, Colombia, Argentina and Czechia will also engage in a fierce fight for the fourth ticket to the next stage of the competition.


Brazil’s Gabriela 'Gabi' Guimaraes