SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic, June 5, 2023.- Canada, Cuba and the United States men’s teams are set to begin the Volleyball Nations League (VNL) on Tuesday June 6 in Ottawa, Canada.
It’s the men’s turn now on the Volleyball Nations League 2023. After the women opened the fifth edition of the event in a spectacular way last week in Antalya, Türkiye, and Nagoya, Japan, the top men’s national teams on the planet will now start their race for the title.
United States won the bronze medal in the first edition in 2018, and silver medals in 2019 and last year. Canadians were 15th in the 2022 VNL and Cuba will appear in the VNL for the first time after winning the 2022 FIVB Challenger Cup.
While Nagoya will continue to serve as host for the VNL 2023, welcoming Pool 2 competition, the Canadian city of Ottawa will also get involved, hosting 16 matches between Tuesday and Sunday at the TD Place.
For more on the competition: VNL 2023
Reigning world champions Italy lead the eight teams set to compete over the week in the Canadian capital in a list that also includes 2021 VNL champions Brazil, Tokyo Olympic bronze medalists Argentina, last year’s VNL runners-up the United States, hosts Canada, Cuba, the Netherlands and Germany.
The first match in Ottawa, set to take place on Tuesday, at 16:30 local time (20:30 UTC), will reunite two heavyweights, with world champions Italy battling Argentina. The Italians had a strong preparation for the VNL, securing wins over the Netherlands and Bulgaria ahead of the start of the event while the Argentineans beat Cuba once in two matches in Tecnopolis last week.
Later on the same day, at 20:00 local time (00:00 UTC, Wednesday) hosts Canada will play their first official match under the guidance of new head coach Tuomas Sammelvuo against NORCECA rivals Cuba. The North Americans played Brazil twice in friendly matches last week, splitting wins with the South Americans.
The debut of international powerhouses and VNL medallists the United States and Brazil will generate excitement on Wednesday. The Americans will play first, against the Netherlands, at 16:30 local time (20:30 UTC), with the Brazilians facing the Germans later, at 20:00 local time (00:00 UTC, Thursday).
Thursday will be the first day with three matches and the two later ones will probably draw the most attention, with world champions Italy battling the United States at 16:30 local time (20:30 UTC) and the South American Derby between Brazil and Argentina completing the schedule at 20:00 local time (00:00 UTC, Friday).
Friday’s encounter between Italy and Cuba, set to begin at 16:30 local time (20:30 UTC), will promote some reunions as most of the key Cuban players, such as outside hitters Marlon Yant and Osniel Melgarejo, middle blocker Robertlandy Simon and opposite Jesus Herrera, all play in the Italian SuperLega Credem Banca.
Another continental Derby will take place on Saturday, with hosts Canada facing the United States in the last match of the day, set to start at 20:00 local time (00:00 UTC, Sunday). The Americans will have another difficult encounter before leaving Ottawa as they battle Brazil on Sunday, at 14:30 local time (18:30 UTC).
Nagoya’s Pool 1 matches will also take place from Tuesday to Sunday and will feature the national teams of Bulgaria, China, France, Iran, Japan, Poland, Serbia and Slovenia.
The VNL Preliminary Phase will feature three weeks of competition, with each of the 16 teams playing 12 matches. The eight best-ranked national teams in the Preliminary Phase will qualify for the Final Phase, which will be held in Gdańsk, Poland, from July 19-23 – host country Poland are already guaranteed a spot.