Montreux, Switzerland, June 5, 2017- Excitement is building on the Swiss Riviera as the 32nd Edition of the Montreux Volley Masters, the most prestigious invitational tournament in volleyball, prepares to get underway.
The six-day spectacle, running from June 06 to June 11, will see seven teams among the top 15 of the FIVB World Ranking, along with hopeful hosts Switzerland, do battle at Salle Omnisports Perrier in the hunt for the coveted gold medal. The latest edition may be one of the most eagerly anticipated in the tournament’s history, after the exhilarating action that was on display in 2016.
2016 Olympic Champions China are back to defend their Montreux title from last year, with coach An Jiajie naming Olympic gold medallists Liu Xiaotong, Lin Li, and Gong Xiangyu in his side, who will shoulder the task of providing his young team with vital experience. If they are to retain their crown, however, they will once more have to contend with last year’s runners-up and spectator’s favourites Thailand, who stole the hearts of volleyball fans worldwide following their run to the Montreux Masters gold-medal game. Needless to say, the Thais will be determined to go one better and take home the title this time around.
Also looking to better last year’s 5th place finish is José Roberto Guimarães’ Brazil side, despite being in the midst of a transitional period. The Seleção have been forced to adapt to the retirements of long-serving stars Fabiana Claudino and Sheilla Castro, and has since been rocked by the absence of Wing Spiker Gabriela Guimarães through injury. Nevertheless, hungry youngsters like Rosamaria Montibeller and Naiane De Almeida Rios as well as experienced veterans like Roberta Ratzke and Natalia Pereira are poised to step up and lead Brazil to another title on the shores of Lake Geneva.
Another aspiring side in Montreux this year is the Netherlands, who narrowly missed out on a podium finish in 2016. The Netherlands are poised to come back stronger after their bitter defeat in the FIVB Volleyball Women’s World Championship qualifiers against Azerbaijan and the missed opportunity to directly qualify for next year’s premier event. Poland, on the other hand, will be looking to salvage some pride in Montreux, after their hopes of reaching the 2018 FIVB Volleyball Women’s World Championship were dashed after a shock second-round out.
Germany will also feature in Montreux again after a one year absence, following their successful qualification campaign for the 2018 FIVB Volleyball Women’s World Championship in Japan came to a close on Sunday night. Felix Koslowski’s squad will, therefore, have only one day to prepare for their Montreux campaign, and only time will tell if that will prove detrimental on court.
Hosts Switzerland will be chomping at the bit to earn their spurs against some of the strongest sides in women’s volleyball, and they will face the daunting task of attempting to escape Pool A, beginning their campaign against defending champions China, before facing off against the Netherlands and Argentina.
There are also some mouth-watering ties to be played out in Pool B, with the much-fancied Thais set to cross swords with Poland, Brazil and Germany. The first stage will start with a single Round-Robin qualification stage starting from Tuesday, June 6 to Friday, June 9, with three matches taking place daily (16.30, 18.45, and 21.15 CET). The semi-finals will take place on June 10, at 15:30 and 18:30 CET after the classification ties. The long-awaited final will close the competition on June 11, at 16:00 CET, as we will finally discover who will be crowned 2017 Montreux Volley Masters champions.
There is no doubt that sports fans around the world can once again look forward to another epic week of volleyball on the shores of Lake Geneva featuring the elite of international women’s volleyball.