2022 World Championships: Volleyball at Its Highest Level.

2022 World Championships:  Volleyball at Its Highest Level.
Published: 2022-09-21
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Never has been volleyball so political, so competitive and so balanced! 

And the most competitive of all is recounted in this 2022 Men’s World Championships staged in Slovenia and Poland by the International Federation of Volleyball.

The disqualification of the Russian Volleyball Federation created the opportunity for two new teams to emerge in the world-class competition, Ukraine, and Slovenia. 

But what could we say about this highly competitive version of the Men’s World Championship?  Well, in contrast to previous versions the FIVB has adopted a new format and the competition reflected a high-performance balance demonstrated in the Tokyo summer Olympics. 

What else? All games were a real war of titans!  This edition of the 2022 World Championships is memorable because so many games were decided by the fifth set.

In addition to the new format, it certainly presented us with a greater balance between the main selections of the world today, and the presence of some new emerging volleyball powers who had their moments of prominence such as Slovenia, Ukraine, and Cuba.

In the World Cup this year we had the participation of 24 teams divided into 6 groups of 4 (four), after playing all against all in their groups, was made a ranking with the first 16 selections according to their placements. Sendo the 6 (six) first teams that finished in 1st place, the 6 (six) teams that finished in 2nd place, and the 4 (four) teams that finished 3rd place in the group stage.  From this ranking began the round of 16, quarterfinals, semifinals, and final according to this ranking.

A new format that somehow ended up occasioning some teams that did not do very well in the first phase, staying alive in the competition, because in previous editions the teams carried their results for the next phase, and also as a novelty the format similar to the Olympic knockout format, ie open game for the 16 teams classified for this phase defines the continuity in the championship in a single game.

We would like to highlight the absence of the Russian national team, a strong candidate for the title,   and disqualified as sanctions relating to the unjustified invasion of Ukraine.  This current Guerra, provided the presence of Ukraine with a style  of play based on European strength, but also marked the return of the Cuban national team with its main players in this edition, as well as the current Olympic champion France tipped as one of the favorites, the Japanese team returning to be competitive after the last Olympic cycle,  the Slovenian national team was one of the  national teams and current European runner-up in 2021,  coming on a great rise in the last 4 years,  a renewed Italian team with an average age of 24 years and which has already reaped the result of this renewal with the European title in 2021 and strong candidate for the title , the absence of the pointer Leon in the strong and candidate for the three-time world championship the Polish national team, the American team always with the mixture of new faces and its veterans of the last Olympic cycle, the selected Argentine after  a medal of 3rd place in the Olympics seeks to remain competitive at the world level.

The selection of Iran undergoing renovations and seeking to remain among the best world teams after the departure of its great star the lifter Saied Marouf, the return of Wallace to the Brazilian team that after the 4th Place in the last Olympics and with renewals comes in search of its sixth consecutive final in the world with three titles and two-second places.

Below are the Keys with the respective selections and their positions in the FIVB Ranking, before starting the world.

                                                                                                                         

A world championship that was marked by a great balance in the games, with several games being played in the best of 5 sets, mainly in the knockout stage where we had only 4 games being won by the partial of 3-0 in 16 games.

Below is the figure with the 16 teams that played the final round of the World Cup in the format of octaves, quarterfinals, semifinals, and finals:

Speaking of the final scoring round, we had a surprise in the opening round of the round of 16 with the early elimination and no chance of breathing from the Dutch team led by their main player and scorer Nimir Abdel Aziz, by the previously unknown Ukraine in 3x0 in a hard-hitting way ( 25x16/25x19/25x1).

Also, in the round of 16 a game of taking the breath with a high technical level involving France vs Japan, a match played in 5 sets being won in the final by the partial of 18x16 by France that came to defend 2 matches points of the Japanese.

Who passed suffocation still in this round of 16 was the USA, who started very well dominating the game against Turkey and winning the first two sets, saw the game get out of control and had to take the contest to the fifth set, winning the same by 15x12, which proves once again the great level that is men's volleyball today.

Brazil, Argentina, Ukraine, and Poland led their matches to close the partials in 3-0, as Slovenia and Italy needed four sets to beat Germany and Cuba respectively. Italy finally won in great style against the hosts Poland.  What an amazing Men’s Word Championship.   

After the round of 16, eight teams were closed to the quarter-final knockout stage, and the surprises so far were due to Argentina, which made the first phase of the competition below what was expected to be only in 3rd place and almost did not qualify for the knockout stage, re-editing together with Brazil the confrontation that took them to the podium in the Japan Olympics,  but this time the Brazilian team took the best and won convincingly the game by the partial of 3x1.

And without a doubt, the great surprise of this world cup was the selection of Ukraine, which even without many expressions in international competitions and faced with a difficult time faced by his country in the current war, made a great world-ending his participation selling expensive the defeat by 3-1 to Slovenia host country,  Slovenia is growing a lot in the last 4 years in international competitions consolidating itself as one of the great European teams today.

And to close well the clashes of this stage and define the 4 semifinal teams of the world championship, 2 duels between four candidates for the world title, France vs. Italy on one side and the other, Poland vs. the USA. All as expected, two duels involving 4 teams accustomed to winning and winning titles, Poland in search of its third consecutive final to fight for its tri-championship, the USA seeking to break its Polish hegemony, the current Olympic champion 2021 and VNL champion in 2022, but who struggled to overcome Japan and demonstrated that it is not in the same conditions that led her to these titles, is ahead of them, nothing more than the renewed and current European champion Italy.

Two great games that could not finish in less than five sets to toast the lovers of the sport with a great spectacle, and so it was, in a very hard and well-played game Italy wins France with a below-expected performance of its great reference Ervin Engapth by the side of the French team, and on the other hand, a great game very well distributed by the lifter Simone Giannelli, and with a great performance of his sides with emphasis on the opposite Romano who finished the clash with 22 points.

In the clash involving the owners of the house, the Poles after opening the partial of 2-0 in high partials, ended up giving up the tie and taking the game to the fifth and decisive set. But in the fifth and decisive set, the home team was able to open a wide lead early in the set and took it to close the partial in 15x12 and eliminate the U.S. from the semifinals.

Arrived at the semifinal stage in two clashes that have already edited finals recently, on one side SLO x ITA the finalists of the last edition of the European championship won by Italy, and on the other side POL x BRA, the two teams that played in the finals of the last two world championships having as winner Poland.

The current European champion had no trouble winning in three straight partials and reaching the World Championship Final after 24 years of the last final in 1998, at the time the three-time world championship of a generation that marked the 90s.

 Already for the other confrontation, what we could expect from a very strong Poland and a Brazil restructured due to injuries and also as punctual changes among them the main lifter Fernando Cachopa replacing the great leader Bruninho, a tough game with alternation in the field of the score of the game, with alternate sets, defined in the 5 set in favor of the owners of the house by 15x12,  leading the Poles to the third consecutive world championship final.

In the 3rd place match between BRA x SLO, Brazil started hard and without letting Slovenia breathe, closed the first two partials and forwarded the victory in the game, in the third set Brazil opened a great advantage but ended up taking the foot off the accelerator, with this the game ended up moving to the 4 sets,  but in the same way that it started, with Brazil dominating the game and closing in 3x1 thus guaranteeing the bronze medal and remaining on the podium in world championships for 24 consecutive years, being three titles (2002/2006/2010), two runners-up (2014/2018) and a third (2022).

Already in the grand final, two major European training schools, on the other side Poland holds three world titles that reach the third consecutive final (2014/2018/2022), in search of its fourth title, on the other, the Italian school that made history in the 90s, period that became three-time world champion, returns to a world championship final 24 years after the last disputed final, a period of great fasting for a school that made history in the 90s.

What is expected of such a strong confrontation historically and at present, two great squads with options to change the history of any game, but what was seen was a first set where Polonia pushed by their fans closes the first part by 25x22 with a certain dominance and with its biggest star Bartosz Kurek oscillating yield on the court.

On the Italian side the young players made a somewhat apprehensive first set when apprehensive still with alternation of yields from their three sides, at the end of the second set Italy managed to seek the set and turn after being two points behind on the scoreboard, and with that tied the match 1-1 in the sets.

However, what was seen from the third set was an Italian dominance in the game, captained by the excellent distribution of his lifter Simone Giannelli, making the performance of his three sides improve a lot until finishing the game in 3-1, a performance that much higher than the late Poles who combined finished the game with 32 points against 46 of the Italians with highlight to the opposite Romano who finished the game with 19 points.

With this gala performance, Italy breaks the fast of 24 years without making the world championship final, reaching its fourth title and apparently, with is a renewal that already has in its repertoire the title of the European championship and m 2021 and the title of the world championship in 2022, opening an Olympic cycle in a very convincing way and with potential for growth great ahead, I believe that we will have great championships ahead and certainly with a level of competitiveness never seen before, with at least six or eight teams with real chances of reaching the finals of any championship.

Below: is the final result and the selection for the Championship.

  • Setter: Simone Giannelli (Italy)
  • Opposite: Bartosz Kurek (Poland)
  • Outside Hitters: Yoandy Leal (Brazil) and Kamil Semeniuk (Poland)
  • Middle Blockers: Mateusz Bieniek (Poland) and Gianluca Galassi (Italy)
  • Libero: Fabio Balaso (Italy)
  • MVP: Simone Giannelli (Itália)

Russia - 6 titles; Brazil - 3 titles; Italy - 3 titles; Poland - 3 titles; Czech Republic - 2 titles;   United States - 1 title;    East Germany - 1 title