1. Despite Russia crushing everyone in the final round, the tournament was pretty entertaining. The level of talent in volleyball keeps getting better and better, and the number of players in their early 20s who are already at an advanced skill level is astounding. I still think indoor volleyball has a higher ceiling than the level being played, and the VNL gives me hope for the next generation.
  2. It sucked that so many people had issues accessing the games. The FIVB’s mantra of “be part of the game” was painfully out of place in the year they took away YouTube streams. Whether you were in a country that had no access to the volleyballworld.tv app, was an American who had to deal with the travesty of flovolleyball or were just a casual fan who couldn’t justify spending $30, watching the VNL this year was a pain in the butt. I have no problem with the FIVB wanting to monetize their content, but to improve the long-term health of the sport there must be a compromise.
  3. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed the English commentary in the finals. I am generally not the biggest fan of Clayton Lucas, as he doesn’t seem to have more than a surface-level understanding of the sport and players, but he shined when put next to Aussie coach Marc Lebedew. Clayton brought the energy for young/casual fans and Marc brought the analysis that has been noticeably absent in FIVB matches. Volleyball is a sport that benefits from a two-man booth, and I hope these two work together again.
  4. This Russian team should be massive favourites in the World Championships. As soon as I saw Mikhaylov/Muserskiy/Kliuka/Volkov play together against Poland I knew this group was something special. Their combination of height, skill, and athleticism made other countries look like they were fielding high school squads. And they can still get better if Butko and Verbov play in the world championships. Nobody in that core should age out before the 2020 Olympics which should make other contenders nervous.
  5. The whole NERVO situation was weird, but the song they made for VNL was lit.
  6. Too much travel. Check any player’s Instagram and you can be sure to hear frustrations with the number of plane rides they had to put up with. Especially because the tournament comes right after a grueling club season, the amount of stress this puts on athlete’s bodies is enormous. I get that part of the point of the tournament is to showcase volleyball all over the world but doing a shorter and more localized tournament would result in fewer injuries, fewer star players skipping games and more competitive volleyball. And there are very few coaches/athletes who would disagree with that.
  7. I liked the commercials they did in the “dude perfect” style with the trick shots. It was a creative and well-executed way to show off what’s cool about volleyball to casual fans. Volleyball players get the most face time during games out of almost any athlete, and the FIVB should continue to make their star players like Zaytsev, Christenson, Bruno, Grebennikov, and Giannelli as recognizable and marketable as possible.
  8. I know I talked about it a bit already, but the whole flovolleyball situation is just so ridiculous. Especially after the news that the next three men’s VNL finals will take place in the USA. Trying to grow the game by hosting more events is great, but not while simultaneously pricing out 95% of your fans from ever viewing a game. USA volleyball didn’t sell the rights to flosports themselves, but either they or the FIVB should have stepped in and realized that this would result in a massive drop in interest in potentially their most lucrative market. One step forward, two steps back.
  9. Those “monster block” and “we love volleyball” chants are so cheesy but will be stuck in my head for eternity.
  10. Watching pro volleyball makes me want to try so many new moves. Micah Christenson hybrid serves, Dmitry Kovalev two-handed dump attacks and Earvin Ngapeth windmills are just some of the moves I know I’ll try and fail at over the next few weeks. It might be too late for me to improve significantly, but all the young players out there should be watching some pro ball to see the game at the highest level. You’ll definitely pick up a thing or two.

What were your thoughts on the “inaugural” edition of the nations league? Did you watch any of it? Just highlights? Go see a game live?

2 Comments »

  1. It has been very exciting 1.5 months, and thank you for the great job of all the blogs and podcasts.

    Although honestly doubting #10. Personally I’m not really a fan of those moves.

    Like

  2. Have thoroughly enjoyed your coverage. You and Liam obviously have a great depth of knowledge and understanding of the game. Adding Kelsey’s insights was a nice touch as well.
    Looking forward to further podcasts!!!

    Like

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