Gabrielle RosenbunReading: 6 minutes.
The horizon is Los Angeles 2028. In Argentine sports, it is usually very difficult to think long-term. It’s about not having the carrot in front of you to try and hit the devil with. However, the women’s volleyball team will have to chart an expansive story, with its sights set on the next Olympics.
Getting a ticket to Paris 2024 was very complicated in the pre-Olympics: you had to finish above Turkey, the new world No. 1, and perennially powerful Brazil, for example. Although the other five places will be awarded in 2024, according to the confederations’ shares and the world rankings, Las Panteras can only focus on the future.
They have already appeared in the second international platoon and it is necessary to develop in the game and in the world rankings to feed the possibility of adding another Olympic experience, as happened in Rio 2016 and Tokyo 2020. Adjustments in the classification system for the Olympics The matches will be made more difficult each time to reach the teams that are not among Top 12 teams in the FIVB classification.
As for Argentina, which rose this year to 17th place, it does not yet have many ways to shorten distances. First, a fundamental bridge must be built: access to the League of Nations. In this case, the feedback will be constant: you can grow by regularly playing against the best teams on the planet, something that even today only happens sporadically.
The point is that incremental or incremental improvements are not enough now. You have to hit a big hit. He achieved great success in a major tournament. This metaphor doesn’t seem far-fetched: the FIVB has created a gated neighborhood, and teams within its perimeter have extreme difficulty even approaching the perimeter fence. Or drawn another way: the ambition to enter elite racing using skateboards against GP-style motorcycles.
If approved by the International Olympic Committee, the host United States, the five continental champions, the three best teams from the 2027 World Cup that have not yet qualified, and the three best ranked teams that have not secured their place will participate. In Los Angeles 2028. Olympic in another way. Winning the South American Championship against Brazil seems as unlikely as reaching the World Cup semi-finals at the moment. Then all that remains is to advance in the rankings.
To do this, Las Panteras must aspire to play in the Challenge Cup, the tournament that awards annual promotion to the VNL. This competition is played by the host country, one team for each region or five continents, the last team from the last VNL and another selected according to different patterns. This is done by direct elimination and the champion is promoted to the following VNL season. Currently, Argentina is the best ranked in South America (17th) after Brazil, which already has a place in the VNL: leaving Colombia behind (22nd) is fundamental news for the light blue and white. Argentina has great chances to start playing the Challenge Cup more often, seeking a potential jump to the National Football League. In seasons where there is no South American presence, only the national team is guaranteed the Pan American Cup. On the other hand, in Europe, teams that do not play the VNL have two annual competitions: the Gold League (the top two teams qualify for the Challenge Cup) and the Silver League (awarding promotions to the Gold League). Even the third level countries guarantee a series of the most interesting matches for the individual and team development and growth of their athletes.
Growth in the game to rise in the rankings
Since Daniele Castellani took charge of Las Panteras, the team has evolved: it won the Pan American Cup for the first time, regained second place in the South American Championship after 10 years, and had an interesting pre-Olympic tournament.
In Tokyo, some certainties have been reinforced. Center backs Candelaria Herrera and Bianca Farriol are performing at a high level and are the team’s thermometer: aged 24 and 21 respectively, they have plenty of room to grow. Bianca Cugno, 20, proved herself to be the opposite: she was the main vehicle of attack and showed her strength. Daniela Pulic had a good tournament, Jamila Nežić showed determination and experience, and the alternative receiving points provided some situational solutions, although it is clear that the team needs more contributions in this role, especially in attack.
Against Belgium (3-0 win), Tips added an average of 7.3 points per set. Against Japan and Turkey, this average was less than 4 points per set. In the last three matches, all played over five sets, they averaged between 4.4 and 4.8 per quarter. It seems a bit much for a team that needs defense, strength and counterattacking to be able to take on physically stronger opponents.
For a team that does not have the dynamic model of superpowers, it is necessary to improve accuracy. It must be an hour. Something like Japan, but in the South American version. In this sense, captain Victoria Mayer should be better and the free-receiving player who has an almost perfect pass should appear: in principle, this was Tatiana Rizzo’s last season in the team. His replacement will be key to the team’s future.
Youth in power
The inclusion of younger players will also be a pivotal task for Castellani starting in 2024. If his goal is Los Angeles 2028, he must give a hint to players who can play important roles, in addition to the previously mentioned libero: it is necessary to find a replacement player for Maier, which is Another central defender who could eventually replace Herrera and Farriol, and point receivers who can punish in attack, either through strength or flexibility in the use of attacking resources.
There are already three or four players in the pipeline who played in the U-21 World Cup this year, three or four who played very well in the U-19 World Cup this season and some Argentine volleyball players who are performing in college volleyball in the United States. In fact, they are working on a project to obtain a permanent development selection, with the aim of improving the physical and technical conditions of athletes who already have a biotype and potential closer to international powers.
Win more often against direct competitors
With what has been achieved in 2023, it will also be necessary for Las Panteras to strengthen itself in the coming years with victories against direct rivals: it does not seem wise to reach peaks against almost unattainable powers – it happened, in fact, in the pre- The Olympic Games struggled a lot to overcome Peru, which fell to 38th place in the world rankings.
Puerto Rico, which lost in the Pan American Cup final but lost in the regular phase of that tournament as well as the pre-Olympic phase, will have to start beating them up a lot. They will also have to get used to adding more wins than losses against second-tier European teams: Belgium, the Czech Republic, Ukraine and Bulgaria, for example.
Paris on the horizon
Without Argentina having the opportunity to participate, Paris 2024 already has seven qualified teams in women’s volleyball. Local France, which has a quota as the organizer, on Sunday joined the top six teams in the pre-Olympic stage: the Dominican Republic and Serbia, from Group A, who played in China; Türkiye and Brazil from Group B played in Japan. The United States and Poland, from Group C, qualified with the Polish national team on their soil.
At the end of the regular phase of the VNL 2024, the other five spots will be awarded: one for the best Asian and one for the best African, as there must be one team on each continent. Today it will be China (6th in the ranking) and Kenya (21st). The other three will leave the standings at that time: currently the passports of Italy (5th), Japan (9th) and the Netherlands (10th) will be stamped.