7 teams claimed their ticket to the biggest stage in the world of sports, the Olympics. Poland, Brazil, Italy, Japan, Russia, Argentina, and the USA were the teams who ended up on top while 5 spots remained unclaimed. Some teams showed improvement from previous years, while others seem to have taken a slight step backward. The SpikeNet decided to take note of those details that manage to stand out and seem to be influencing the path some teams are taking towards Tokyo 2020.

NO KUREK, NO PROBLEM…

Due to some back issues, Bartosz Kurek was unable to participate in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic qualifier. For other teams, this would have been a major setback, yet Poland remained unbothered. The addition of Wilfredo Leon and some steady playing by lefty Maciej Muzaj seem to have softened the blow for the red/white troop. Even without Kurek, Poland managed to make a strong case to be considered early favorites for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics by dominating their pool which included teams like France and Slovenia. Now that’s scary.

Via. FIVB

BRAZIL LOST A STEP, BUT MIGHT STILL HAVE IT…

Volleyball fans have been historically spoiled by a strong Brazilian team. Last Olympics they claimed gold dismissing Italy 3–0 in the finals, but this year something doesn’t quite convince us that they could go all the way. The addition of Leal makes them a very strong offensive team, yet drives them away from their ball control culture. Brazil did show that they haven’t lost their grit by coming back from a 0–2 deficit against Bulgaria in the finals of their pool, but this also proves that the competition has risen to their level and it will take an extra push to get past some new Tokyo 2020 favorites.

Via. FIVB

OSMANY IS NOT DONE…

Osmany Juantorena suggested retiring from the international scene, but ended up deciding to put a “not yet” sign over that thought and come back to play for Italy. After sweeping Serbia at the qualifier, Italy looked like the strong team we all have come accustomed to seeing. Juantorena ended up with 13 points proving that he still has what it takes to lead this team alongside Ivan Zaytsev towards the Olympic gold they all crave. If Juantorena didn’t decide to comeback, Italy would of been in a world of trouble as they really don’t have an outside hitter who can replace or even match up to Juantorena’s caliber. With Gianelli gaining lots of experience, Ivan Zaytsev and himself, Juantorena has a big shot at getting over the hump instead of falling short once again.

Via. FIVB

RUSSIA CONTINUES THEIR DOMINANCE…

Russia potentially had the easiest route towards obtaining their ticket out of the teams already mentioned here, but that shouldn’t take away from their exponential growth this past few tournaments. Russia’s young core keeps impressing as Volkov and Poletaev continue to show off their offensive skills while glimpsing future stardom. We also got a glimpse at a healthy Dmitriy Muserskiy which could potentially put them at a whole nother level if he were to stay healthy and play for them as a starter at the Olympics. Poland has shown new depth to their roster, but Russia isn’t too far behind making this upcoming Olympics unpredictable and ones to watch out for.

Via. FIVB

#TheSpikeNet #GrowTheGame