March 28, 2023

Following their victories in the Volleyball Challenger Cup this year, the Croatian women’s team and the Cuban men’s team will make their first appearances in the Volleyball Nations League in 2023. The competition took place between Thursday and Sunday with eight female teams competing in Zadar, Croatia, and eight male teams competing in Seoul, Korea.

The Croatian women’s team was able to secure the championship by winning three matches in front of their home fans in Zadar. This allowed them to take full advantage of the fact that their country was hosting the tournament. The team that is coached by Akbas Ferhat prevailed over Belgium in the match for the gold medal, winning all four sets (25-20, 21-25, 25-22, 25-21).

Samanta Fabris, the captain of Croatia and star opposite player, prevailed in the scoring competition against Britt Herbots, the top scorer from Belgium, by leaving the court with 31 points (30 kills, one block) to Herbots’s 23 (21 kills, two aces) to claim the title of top scorer in the 2022 VNL.

Challenger Cup

Fabris’s response to the situation was, “It was amazing to do it in front of so many of our fans who came here,” “We came here with our objective in mind, we came here with our dream in mind, and we knew it was going to be challenging.

However, we were prepared to engage in combat and work hard to earn our position among the VNL’s best. Because of how well everything went, I have a lot of pride not only for my team and its coaching staff, but also for the people who ran the event. We are going to be competing in the VNL against some of the best teams in the world the following year, but right now we just want to have fun and celebrate.

Puerto Rico won the women’s Volleyball Challenge Cup after taking down Colombia in four sets. As a result, Puerto Rico finished in third place (27-25, 23-25, 25-23, 25-18). The Caribbeans had four players who performed exceptionally well, including Brittany Abercrombie (opposite), Marie Victoria (17 points), Stephanie Enright (16 points), and Neira Ortiz (middle blocker). Abercrombie led the team in scoring with 18 points, while Victoria, Enright, and Ortiz each had 17. (15). Dayana Segovia, an opposite player for Colombia, and Ana Karina Gamboa, an outside hitter for Colombia, tied for the most points scored in the match with 20 apiece.

Schedule of Matches and Results for the Volleyball Challenger Cup

In Seoul, Cuba secured their spot in the 2023 Volleyball National League by claiming the men’s Volleyball Challenger Cup with a 3-1 victory (25-17, 23-25, 25-20, 25-20). With their three victories, Cuba earned the right to compete in the 2023 VNL. The Caribbean team prevailed in the competition despite the absence of three crucial players—middle blocker Robertlandy Simon, outside hitter Livan Osoria, and outside hitter Marlon Yant—who were all sidelined with injuries. The Cuban national volleyball team had participated in both of the previous editions of the Volleyball Challenger Cup, finishing in fourth place in 2018 and in second place in 2019.

In the match for the gold medal, the Cuban team was led to victory by Miguel Angel Lopez, a 25-year-old outside hitter who produced 20 points for his team (16 kills, two aces, and two blocks) while competing against the Turkish. Jesus Herrera, who played opposite, contributed another 19 points by notching 16 kills, two blocks, and one ace.

After the Cuban victory, Lopez said that after the Cuban victory, “we are very excited and honored that we were able to bring Cuba to the VNL.” “This is our third time competing in the Volleyball Challenger Cup, and this time we were finally able to take first place and earn a spot in the VNL. Türkiye turned in a very strong performance, but we were able to keep our concentration throughout the match, and that was one of the factors that contributed to our success.

After a nail-biting victory over the Czech Republic in five sets (25-19, 25-16, 24-26, 23-25, 22-20), the host nation of Korea was awarded the bronze medal. Donghyeok Im, a Korean opposite, led all scorers with a total of 33 points (28 kills, four aces, and one block). He was followed by Marek Sotola, a Czech opposite, who produced 22 points (20 kills, two blocks) for his team.

For more information regarding the National League, click here