Montreux, Switzerland, September 3, 2018- The upcoming 33rd edition of the Montreux Volley Masters has gripped the Swiss Riviera with anticipation and excitement once again as some of the finest talent in International Women's Volleyball prepare to showcase themselves on the shores of Lac Léman once again.
The six-day spectacle, which gets started on September 4 and runs through to September 9 will see five teams in amongst the top 15 of the FIVB World Rankings competing, including defending champions and World Number Four, Brazil, who will seek to defend their crown from the 2017 edition, starting with a successful negotiation of Pool B.
José Roberto Guimarães can once more call upon the experienced heads of veterans Roberta Ratzke and Natalia Pereira in his squad, as well as that of double-Olympic gold medal winner Thaisa Menezes. Wing Spikers Rosamaria Montibeller and Drussyla Costa, who impressed en route to last year's Montreux gold, are once again included in a strong side, with this competition set to act as a final test prior to the FIVB World Championships in Japan.
World Number One and reigning Olympic Champions, China, will aim to reclaim their gold medal from 2016 having had to settle for Bronze last year. Head Coach An Jiajie has a wealth of experience available in his own squad ahead of their opening match in Pool A against Switzerland even with one eye on next month's FIVB World Championships. This includes Outside Hitter Zeng Chunlei, who captained the Chinese side that was victorious at the 2015 FIVB World Cup.
World Number Five, Russia, and seventh-ranked Italy, return to Montreux for the 2018 edition, making their first appearances at the prestigious invitational showpiece in three years.
Italian coach Davide Mazzanti in particular is putting his faith into the youthful talent of the Squadra Azzurra, with all but three of his side featuring at Montreux having been born in 1994 or later. His handful of more senior players includes experienced 29-year-old Wing Spiker Lucia Bosetti, but the emerging talent of Paola Egonu is sure to be a real weapon for the Italians. At the tender age of 19, she was finished up as only the second highest scorer in the whole 2017 FIVB Grand Prix, as Italy clinched the Silver medal, and Mazzanti will be hoping for a similar impact here as his side seek to successfully navigate Pool A.
Russia coach Vladimir Kuzyutkin is also relying upon the up and coming talent of his 'Sbornaya' side in Pool B ahead of an opening showdown with defending champions Brazil, none more so than Middle Blocker Angelina Lazarenko, who is no stranger to the local surroundings after a spell with Volero Zürich earlier in her club volleyball career.
Turkey return to Montreux after sitting out last year's showpiece, and will look to signal their intent against Volleyball's elite as they look to repeat their gold medal run on the Swiss Riviera from 2015 and add a perfect precursor to their World Championship campaign later this year. Italy are the opposition standing in their way in their Pool A opener, and mercurial coach Giovanni Guidetti will be looking to mastermind another win for the ‘Queens of the Net’ as he seeks to guide them to reclaiming their place amongst Volleyball’s elite.
Out of the underdogs, hosts Switzerland will once more test themselves against some of Volleyball's finest in Pool A, as will Poland, who return to the commune after impressing in last year's tournament with a fifth-place finish. Like last year, Switzerland face a stern opening test against the Chinese whilst
Poland feature in a competitive Pool B alongside Brazil and Russia, needing to be at their best if they are to aspire towards a podium finish.
Cameroon are this year's big history-makers going into the competition, completing the Pool B line-up. The Indomitable Lionesses, ranked 18th in the world, are the first African team to feature in the history of the competition, and will look to repeat some of the debut heroics of teams from years gone by to make their campaign one to remember. They will make their bow against the Russians on Wednesday in a landmark match for the African game.
The tournament commences in it traditional format with a single Round-Robin qualification stage starting from Tuesday, September 4th to Friday, September 7th, with three matches taking place daily (15.30, 17.45, and 20.15 CET). The semi-finals will take place on September 8th, at 17:30 and 20:00 CET after the classification ties (12:00 CET & 14:30 CET). The long-awaited final will close the competition on September 9th, at 15:00 CET following the 12:30 CET Bronze match, as we will finally discover who will be crowned 2018 Montreux Volley Masters champions.
If recent years are anything to go by, the 33rd edition of this invitational showpiece featuring some of the elite in the women's game is not one to be missed, and fans of the game the world over can look forward to the seemingly endless hours of drama once again.
Pool A: China (1), Italy (7), Turkey (12), Switzerland (45)
Pool B: Brazil (4), Russia (5), Cameroon (18), Poland (22).