USA (USA) vs. Türkiye (TUR) women - Pool 1 - Preliminary Phase #4854604

Hosts USA and Türkiye will meet in the second semifinal on Saturday

Only four of the 16 teams that started the Volleyball Nations League 2023 remain in the hunt for the title and the list will be narrowed down to two after the semifinals take place in Arlington, the United States, on Saturday.

While hosts the United States will be looking to secure their fourth title in five editions, Poland, China and Türkiye will all give everything they have to lift the VNL trophy for the first time this weekend.

  • Watch Volleyball Nations League 2023 Finals live on VBTV

Polish and Chinese will play in the first semifinal, set to begin at 16:00 local time (21:00 UTC), with the second duel, between Americans and Turkish, scheduled to start three and a half hours later at the College Park Center. The medal matches will be played on Sunday.

Regardless of what happens over the next two days, Poland can already be considered the biggest surprise of the VNL 2023. The Europeans entered the tournament in tenth place in the FIVB Women’s Volleyball World Ranking and had a stellar campaign, finishing first in the Preliminary Phase and advancing to the Finals for the first time in history – all that without team captain and star setter Joanna Wolosz.

Their memorable run became even more special on Wednesday, when they downed Germany in the quarterfinals and secured a spot in the semifinals. The Poles had a relatively comfortable three-set win over the Chinese when the teams met in the Preliminary Phase, but they know it will probably be very different now.

“China are playing much better now than when we faced them,” libero Maria Stenzel commented. “There’s a lot of things in their game we need to focus on, but our coaching staff will prepare us for it. At the end of the day, in matches like this, it’s the attitude that makes a difference. We believe in our team, we trust we can beat China and that’s the mindset we’ll go to the match with.”

China, who are back in the VNL semifinals after missing out in the last two seasons, will be looking for their third medal after taking bronze in the first two editions of the VNL, in 2018 and 2019.

The Asians were fifth in the Preliminary Phase even without star outside hitter Zhu Ting and scored a massive win in the quarterfinals on Thursday, ousting Tokyo Olympic silver medalists Brazil with strong performances from outside hitter Li Yingying and middle blocker Yuan Xinyue.

Volleyball Nations League 2023: full schedule and results

Olympic champions the United States are two wins away from returning to the top of the podium – they won the tournament in 2018, 2019 and 2021 and finished fifth last season. The Americans were second in the Preliminary Phase and had good preparation for the Finals in front of their home fans.

Head coach Karch Kiraly selected seven Tokyo Olympic champions to be a part of the squad in the Finals and they played big roles in the American 3-1 victory over Japan in the quarterfinals on Wednesday.

The fourth and last team to advance to the semifinals, Türkiye eliminated defending champions Italy in the quarterfinals on Thursday and will try to secure their third medal in the VNL after taking silver in 2018 and bronze in 2021.

In the match against the Italians, head coach Daniele Santarelli sent a new formation to the court, using star opposite Ebrar Karakurt as an outside hitter and Melissa Vargas in her position, which gave the team some interesting additional offensive power.

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