In the battles for the final on Saturday, the United States of America will play versus Poland, while Italy will play against France.
At the men’s Volleyball Nations League Finals in Bologna, there is a day off on Friday, but that is just the calm before the storm as the pulsating semifinals are on the way on Saturday and will determine which two teams play for the 2022 title in Sunday’s final.
In the first semifinal, Poland and the United States will compete against one another at 18:00 local time (16:00 GMT). Three hours later, the hosts, Italy, will play host to France, and the outcomes of both matches are incredibly difficult to forecast.
After beating Brazil in four-set battles in the opening quarterfinal on Wednesday, the United States of America became the first team to move to the semifinals of the competition. Brazil was the team that had won the tournament the previous year. After a thrilling five-set battles against Iran on Thursday, Poland emerged triumphant and became the fourth and final team to advance to the championship round. Poland came in second place with 31 points, while the United States of America came in third place with 27 points. Both qualified teams ended the Preliminary Phase with a win-loss record of 10-2.
The two teams are familiar with competing in the VNL semifinals. Both of them have made it this far in the competition on two previous occasions. The Europeans earned the bronze in 2019 and the silver in 2021, while the North Americans took home the bronze in 2018 and the silver in 2019.
The two teams will clash for the 43rd time at a major international competition when they face off against each other in the semifinals on Saturday. The head-to-head matchup currently has Poland in the lead, 22 to 20. They moved one step closer to victory by prevailing in their most recent two matchups, prevailing at VNL 2021 by a score of 3-0 and earlier in this year’s competition by a score of 3-1 (21-25, 25-23, 26-24, 25-22).
In the final game of the season, which took place on June 26, Polish captain Bartosz Kurek, the star opposite, who had been voted MVP of the VNL the previous year, scored the highest point total of any player in the game with 23 points. Also reaching double digits in scoring were outside hitters Kamil Semeniuk (15) and Aleksander Sliwka (13), while middle blocker Jakub Kochanowski dazzled with four kills and blocks. On the American team, outsides Aaron Russell and Torey Defalco scored 16 and 14 points, respectively, while captain David Smith supplied three stuffs. Torey Defalco also contributed three stuffs. He blocked a total of 27 shots throughout the preliminary round, propelling him to the position of third best blocker overall.
Italy also concluded the Preliminary Phase with a win-loss record of 10-2 and 31 points, but it was Poland’s set ratio that prevented Italy from taking first place in the standings. France finished in fourth place with a record of 9-3 and 28 points. On Wednesday, Italy advanced to the semifinals by winning the quarterfinal battles against the Netherlands in four sets, while France eliminated Japan in three sets.
The Italians made it all the way to the semifinals of the VNL competition for the very first time in the competition’s history. They earned the eighth and the ninth place finishes in 2018 and 2019, respectively, in 2021. The French team, on the other hand, will be participating in the competition’s final four for the third time. They made it all the way to the final in 2018, where they ultimately won silver. In the year 2021, they received the bronze medal.
There have been as many as 57 head-to-head contests between these two European neighbors during the course of their decades-long rivalry at the highest levels of sport around the world. Italy was in the lead heading into Saturday’s 58th match with a record of 35 wins, while France had only 22. They have been alternating victories in the VNL, with Italy celebrating in 2018 and 2021 and France rejoicing in 2019 and 2022, but this will be the first time that they face each other in a VNL Finals battles. Italy won in 2018 and 2021, while France celebrated in 2019 and 2022. On June 9, each of the clubs played their first games of the 2022 VNL season against each other in Ottawa. The French defeated their opponent without allowing them to score by a score of 3-0 (25-22, 26-24, 25-19).
The Italian opponent Yuri Romano was the player that scored the most points during the match. He finished with 16 points, and his setter and captain, Simone Giannelli, tallied four kill blocks while he was on the court. Earvin Ngapeth, a standout outside defender for France, made a contribution of 13 points to his team’s victory. Barthelemy Chinenyeze, a middle blocker, contributed an additional 11 points.
In the championship match for the trophy, which will take place on Sunday at 21:00 local time (19:00 GMT), the two semi-final winners will compete against one other. They will go down in history regardless of which of the four finalists wins the VNL 2022 crown because it will be their first time winning the competition. The two competitors who were eliminated in the semifinals will battle it out for third place three hours sooner.
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