Women’s U21 World Championship starts on Thursday in Mexico

August 16 2023.- Cuba, Dominican Republic, USA and Mexico are among the 16 national teams from all five continents in contention at  the 2023 FIVB Volleyball Women’s U21 World Championship begins on Thursday, in Mexico, completing the calendar for youth international tournaments this year.

Co-hosted by the cities of Leon and Aguascalientes, which are separated by nearly 130km, the tournament will be played from August 17-26, with 64 matches taking place in both locations.

The tournament is streamed live on the Volleyball World YouTube channel.

This will be the first time a Women’s U21 World Championship is held, following a decision of the FIVB Board of Administration in February 2022 to align the Age Groups in both genders. Previously, women would play in the U20 Age Group.

The tournament begins with the 16 teams split into four pools, with each of them playing their pool opponents once over the first three days of competition.

Mexico is in Pool A with Egypt, Thailand and Japan; Dominican Republic, Italy, Brazil and Tunisia form Pool B; United States and Cuba are joined by the Netherlands and Türkiye in Pool D; Serbia, Poland, Argentina and China will compete in Pool C.

After the conclusion of pool play, the top two teams in each group will advance to the second round, with two new pools of four teams (E and F) being formed. Again, the best two national teams will move forward, now to the semifinals.

The third and fourth-placed teams in their original pools will compete for positions 9-16 in pools G and H while the squads that get the same positions in pools E and F will play for positions 5-8.

All 16 teams will be in action on the opening day of the event, with four matches taking place in each host city. In Leon, hosts Mexico will face Japan at 20:30 local time (02:30 UTC, Friday).

**2023 FIVB Volleyball Women’s U21 World Championship: Match Schedule**

In Aguascalientes, Dominican Republic and Brazil will meet at 14:00 local time (20:00 UTC), the United States and Cuba facing off at 17:00 local time (23:00 UTC).

This year’s edition of the U21 World Championship will mark the fifth time the event (including the previous editions in the U20 age group) returns to Mexico. It will also be the second time that Leon and Aguascalientes co-host the tournament, after doing it for the first time in 2019.

Played from 1977 to 2021, the U20 World Championship had nine different winners. With six victories (1987, 1989, 2001, 2003, 2005, 2007), Brazil is the most successful nation in the category, followed by Russia/USSR (1991, 1997, 1999) and China (1995, 2013, 2017) with three and Korea (1977, 1981), Cuba (1985, 1993) and Italy (2011, 2021) with two. Germany (2009), the Dominican Republic (2015) and Japan (2019) complete the list of winners.

Among the players that stood out in earlier editions of the tournament are Cuba’s Mireya Luis, Russia’s Ekaterina Gamova, Brazil’s Jaqueline Carvalho, Japan’s Saori Kimura, Italy’s Monica De Gennaro, the Dominican Republic’s Brenda Castillo, Türkiye’s Zehra Gunes and China’s Zhu Ting.