Preview: Volleyball Nations League 2018 at TD Place Arena from June 8-10

Photos courtesy of FIVB/Volleyball Nations League 2018

Ottawa will welcome the American, German, Australian and Canadian Men’s Volleyball Teams this weekend to compete in the next round of matches in the Volleyball Nations League 2018. The three days of volleyball that will take place at TD Place Arena is part of a nearly three-month competition that will end on July 8.

What is the Volleyball Nations League?

This is the inaugural Volleyball Nations League. The competition has a men’s and women’s bracket, but Ottawa will only be welcoming the men’s competition as Canada’s women’s team did not qualify this year.

There is a total of 16 teams competing this year—12 core nations and 4 challenger teams—that face-off in round robin format, completing a total of 15 matches. The 16 teams will be placed in a combined standing and ranked according to each of their records. The top five teams will advance to the finals to compete for the Volleyball Nations League title with the host nation (France) which takes place from July 4-8.

The four nations that are visiting Ottawa this weekend will take part in Week 3 on the schedule and will coincide with matches happening elsewhere in Japan, Russia and France.

Intro to Team Canada

Team Canada qualify among the four challenger teams alongside South Korea, Australia and Bulgaria.

Team Canada enters the round of matches in 6th place with their competitors sitting 3rd (United States), 12th (Germany) and 15th (Australia).

This past week Canada played three matches in San Juan, Argentina and came away with three wins against Argentina, Italy and Iran to improve their record to four wins and two losses.

Number seven, Stephen Timothy Maar from Scarborough has been Canada’s standout player leading the team in spikes (63) and blocks (11). One of the younger players on the team, Maar has impressed since joining the national team last year competing in the 2017 FIVB Volleyball World League where Canada earned a bronze medal.

Team Canada is led by TJ Sanders. Sanders is Canada’s star setter who has over 100 selections under his belt for the national team and has been integral to Canada’s success in the Volleyball Nations League this year with a total of 460 sets in the competition so far. Team Canada has been relying heavily on Sanders in the setter position with little alternatives.

Something to consider as well is Canada prowess at keeping the play alive with successful digs as four Canadians are in the top five in average digs per set.

The Competition: USA, Germany and Australia

The United States team will be Canada’s most difficult match on the weekend. The American team sit 3rd with wins over Argentina, China, Bulgaria, South Korea and Japan and a loss to powerful Brazil. Canada will pose a substantial threat to the United States and have an opportunity to jump them in the standings depending on the results on the weekend. Number 18, Benjamin Patch has been lethal for the Americans with a 55% success rate on spikes—among the top five.

The American team come with a wealth of experience: They have nine Olympic bronze medalists from the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

Canada will also face Germany and Australia this weekend. Germany has had a difficult schedule thus far but did pull off an impressive win over the current 1st place team Poland last week on Polish soil. Germany will look to repeat the trick this weekend when they face Canada in Ottawa.

Australia have only one win so far and will struggle to compete with the three other nations but if they want to get anything from this weekend’s matches they will have to rely on Lincoln Alexander Williams skills from the service line.

The Schedule

Friday, June 8

Germany vs United States – 4:40 PM

Canada vs Australia – 7:40 PM

Saturday, June 9

United States vs Australia – 4:10 PM

Canada vs Germany – 7:10 PM

Sunday, June 10

Australia vs Germany – 1:10 PM

Canada vs United States – 4:10 PM