international volleyball

Czech Republic rules FIVB Challenger Cup for 1st VNL stint; Vietnam scores bronze

Philip Matel

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Czech Republic rules FIVB Challenger Cup for 1st VNL stint; Vietnam scores bronze

CHAMPS. Czech Republic rules the 2024 FIVB Volleyball Challenger Cup hosted by the Philippines.

Volleyball World

Czech Republic punches a ticket to the 2025 Volleyball Nations League, while Vietnam secures its first medal in the prestigious FIVB Volleyball Challenger Cup

MANILA, Philippines – For the first time ever, Czech Republic secured its first stint in the Volleyball Nations League Women tournament after ruling the FIVB Volleyball Challenger Cup (VCC) in Manila.

The Czech contingent knocked out higher-ranked Puerto Rico, 25-23, 25-20, 18-25, 25-18, on Sunday, July 7, at the Ninoy Aquino Stadium, behind 25 points from Gabriela Orvosova.

“We have to celebrate the success today… this is another tournament that is another level,” said Czechia head coach Ioannis Athanasopoulos after the game.

“In this tournament, we were the better team, we deserved to win,” he added.

The coach of Greek descent touted the victory as the biggest moment since he took over the team in 2019.

Grace Lopez topscored for Puerto Rico with 23 markers in the losing effort.

Manila, which has hosted several high-profile volleyball tournaments, left a mark in the mind of Athanasopoulos, who vows to return if there’s an opportunity.

“I hope I will have an offer at some point to come and coach in this country. The people, the fans are unbelievable,” said the coach.

“Volleyball is huge over here, I didn’t know that. For me, it’s a great experience for me and my team. I have to say on behalf of the Czech national team, I’m very thankful for this experience that we had over here.”

Meanwhile, Vietnam became the first Asian country to crack a top-three finish in the VCC after beating world No. 13 Belgium in the bronze medal match, 25-23, 23-25, 25-20, 25-17.

Thi Bich Tuyen Nguyen caught fire on offense, putting in 34 attacks and a block en route to a tournament-high 35 points.

“I’m very happy with the result and I’m very proud with my teammates… we connected well and we did great today,” said Vietnamese team captain Thi Thanh Thuy Tran.

Despite the losing effort, Belgium is also advancing to next year’s VNL as the highest-ranked team that did not claim an outright spot.

“That’s also the reason why we took the decision to develop our team and our younger players so I think it’s a logical decision, we have to know that it is tough to play a lot of matches,” said Belgium coach Kris Vansnick. – Rappler.com

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