The volleyball marathon that spanned over the last 23 days, the FIVB Volleyball Women’s World Championship 2022, is now over and as all the excitement slowly settles down, it is time for the answers to the five questions we asked before the start of the championship.
Five questions answered as World Championship is completed
Опубликовано 02:45, 16 Oct 2022
1. Will Serbia repeat their historic success from 2018?
Yes, and they were even more emphatic than the first time!
Before the World Championship, there were plenty of factors that cast some doubt over the prospective of Serbia winning the title again: the absence of several major stars, a different coach, a lack of gold medals over the past three years, tougher competition... However, Serbia shrugged it all off and cruised to the top of the podium without losing a single match along the way.
Led by their amazing opposite and captain Tijana Boskovic, the Serbian squad showed some excellent teamwork on the courts of the Netherlands and Poland, with everyone contributing their share to the stunning success. Over 12 matches played, the team representing the southern European nation dropped only five sets. Even in the big final against mighty Brazil on Saturday night in Apeldoorn, the Serbians convincingly won in straight sets to triumph with the trophy.
Serbia became the fifth nation in the history of the World Championship to win the title twice, after USSR/Russia, Japan, China and Cuba. Their competition record also includes the 2006 bronze they earned as Serbia and Montenegro. Their collection of major international competition honours is composed of two Olympic medals (2016 silver and 2021 bronze), an FIVB Volleyball World Cup silver (2015), a Volleyball Nations League bronze (2022), three FIVB Volleyball World Grand Prix bronze medals (2011, 2013, 2017) and six European Championship podiums (2011, 2017 and 2019 gold, 2007 and 2021 silver, and 2015 bronze).
2. Will Italy continue their rise and claim a third big trophy in a row?
No, but they certainly unveiled their huge potential.
Italy finished the 2021 season with a EuroVolley title and started the 2022 season with a VNL trophy, hinting that they might be the best team in the world right now and earning the status of favourites ahead of the World Championship. They did not quite live up to that status, but definitely managed to reveal their might as a team.
Spearheaded by their 23-year-old prodigy Paola Egonu, the Italians won 10 of their 12 matches at the World Championship. They cruised unbeaten through the first phase of the tournament. In the second, they only lost to Brazil in a hard-fought five-setter. After beating powerful China in the quarterfinals, they had to face Brazil again in a semifinal clash. The South Americans defeated them in four sets to put a stop to their quest for the world title.
In Saturday’s third place match, the southern European team recovered to sweep reigning Olympic champions USA in straight sets and earned a well-deserved place on the podium for the third time in history. With this bronze medal, Italy now have a full set of World Championship hardware, also including their 2002 gold and 2018 silver.
3. Will Olympic champions USA reign supreme again?
No, but at least they reached the medal matches.
It has been 20 years since the last time the same team held both the Olympic and the world titles at the same time, and it will be at least another two. As gold medallists of last year’s Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, the United States were rightfully considered among the favourites to win this year’s World Championship again. They successfully reached the semifinals, but failed to book a spot on the podium.
Despite boasting a roster full of top-calibre individual players, led by captain Kelsey Robinson, the Americans shined mostly with their teamwork on the courts of the World Championship. In the first pool phase of the competition, they allowed a single defeat, in the match against world champions Serbia. In the second phase, they suffered an upset at the hands of hosts Poland, but advanced to the quarterfinals, where they overcame a strong Türkiye in straight sets to progress to the semifinals.
USA met Serbia again in a clash for a spot in the final. Although, by winning the third set, they did better than in the previous match, the Americans lost again and had to settle for participation in the bronze medal game against Italy. After losing the first two sets to the European team, USA attempted a comeback and reached a quadruple set point in the third. However, even in such a difficult situation, Egonu and her teammates proved too strong for their opponents and managed to turn the set around for a 27-25 win to claim the bronze and leave the United States on their standing World Championship record of five medals – gold in 2014, silvers in 1967 and 2002, and bronzes in 1982 and 1990.
4. Will rookies Colombia achieve a historic first World Championship win?
No, but they won their first point.
The only newcomer at this edition of the World Championship, Colombia had to cope with their underdog status in Pool D of the first phase of the tournament. But given that they had defeated both Brazil and Argentina at last year’s South American Championship and were higher in the FIVB World Ranking than Argentina and the Czech Republic, the outlook for a historic first World Championship win did not seem that far-fetched.
They started their campaign with three straight-set defeats at the hands of Japan, China and Brazil, and the closest they got to victory was in their fourth game, against Argentina. Powered by their opposite Dayana Segovia, the Colombians were up by a set twice in the match only to allow the Argentineans to level up on each occasion and then win the tie-breaker. Colombia had one more shot at winning a match at the tournament and put up a fight against the Czechs. It was only enough, however, to win one of the four sets, before bowing out of their rookie World Championship.
5. Who will be the best scorer of the World Championship?
Paola Egonu, by far.
The best scorer of the previous edition in 2018, Paola Egonu was among the main candidates for that honour again and she lived up to expectations. Although the powerful Italian opposite scored “just” 275 points, which is as many kills she tallied in attack alone four years ago, she still finished 34 points clear of the next best point-maker, Magdalena Stysiak of Poland, in this year’s scorers’ ranking. Serbia’s Boskovic finished third in that chart, a point short of Stysiak.
Egonu’s record included eight aces, 23 kill blocks and 244 spiking points. In her career, the Italian striker has been the best scorer of a number of competitions, including the 2021 FIVB Volleyball Club World Championship and EuroVolley 2019.