Avital Selinger watches his team

Avital Selinger has indicated to the Dutch Volleyball Federation Nevobo that he will end his time as head coach of the Dutch women's volleyball team. The 63-year-old coach has served out his contract, which ran up to and including the recently played FIVB Volleyball Women's World Championship. Selinger will remain active at the Papendal national training centre as a talent coach, a job he combined with coaching the national team.

On November 20, 2020, Avital Selinger was appointed for the second time as head coach of the Dutch women’s team. The former setter of the Dutch men's team was previously head coach of the Dutch women between 2004 and 2011. In that period, the team won gold at the FIVB Volleyball World Grand Prix (2007) and silver at the European Championships (2009).

In January 2020, the Dutch team failed to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics under the leadership of head coach Giovanni Caprara. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, there was no competition programme for the national team for the rest of that year, so international matches resumed in 2021.

At the 2021 Volleyball Nations League in Rimini, the Dutch team won their matches against Belgium, Russia, Thailand, Serbia, Japan, Poland, Canada, Italy and South Korea, which resulted in a creditable seventh place.

At the European Championship 2021 in Romania, Bulgaria, Serbia and Croatia, the Netherlands finished fourth, behind Turkey (bronze), Serbia (silver) and Italy (gold).

This year was all about the Women's World Championship in the Netherlands, the largest volleyball event ever organised on Dutch soil.

The run-up to the World Championship did not go so smoothly for the Dutch team. Robin de Kruijf and Yvon Beliën, who played in the starting six for years as middle blockers, announced in February that they would stop playing for the national team.

When the Dutch squad started the Volleyball Nations League on June 1, Selinger was unable to use Nika Daalderop, Anne Buijs and Laura Dijkema for various reasons. Buijs and Dijkema returned in the team during the VNL, but Daalderop had to miss the entire tournament due to an injury and would play her first full match only a week before the start of the World Championship.

At the World Championship in the Netherlands, the squad playing in orange drew tens of thousands of spectators to the Gelredome stadium (Arnhem) and Ahoy stadium (Rotterdam), but was unable to achieve their goal of reaching the quarterfinals. After three solid victories over Kenya, Cameroon and Puerto Rico, the Netherlands lost 1-3 against Belgium in the first group stage, a crucial loss, because a good starting position in the second group stage was also lost. In the last match of the first group stage against European Champions Italy, the Dutch team played at a high level at times, but were again defeated.

The Netherlands take on Japan in Rotterdam during the 2022 Women's World Championship

The Netherlands take on Japan in Rotterdam during the 2022 Women's World Championship

In the second group stage, the Netherlands beat Argentina with excellent volleyball. Selinger's team also played a wonderful, but exhausting high-level game against China, which they narrowly lost 3-2. The day after the battle against China, which lasted over two hours, the home team had to take on a well-rested Brazil, who had meticulously analysed the Dutch team, and lost to the South Americans in straight sets. In their last World Championship match, Japan were again too strong for the Dutch, resulting in a defeat. Multiple upsets against these higher-ranked teams would have been needed to reach the final eight, and despite the massive support from the Dutch audience, it was not possible.

When he was appointed in 2020, Selinger was given the task of accelerating the development of a number of Dutch talents, in order to allow them to join the national team. After the retirement of powerhouses such as Lonneke Sloetjes, and later Robin de Kruijf, Yvon Beliën and Maret Grothues, it was important to start building a new generation of Dutch top players.

Elles Dambrink, Fleur Savelkoel, Jolien Knollema and Florien Reesink all made the World Championship roster and can be seen as exponents of the accelerated training process.

With a twelfth place on the world ranking, The Netherlands are still in the race to qualify for the Olympic Games in Paris in 2024. To qualify for Paris, the Netherlands will have to claim a ticket at the Olympic qualifier next year, or improve a few positions in the world ranking before June 2024.

The Nevobo is looking for a successor to Avital Selinger.

Selinger said: “The challenge I took on with the team and staff at the end of 2020 was great, and I enjoyed it. The foundation for the long term has been laid, and I return to our training programme. It is important for the continuity of the women's team that we keep investing in new players. The assignment I received ran up to and including the World Championship, and for me it's enough now."