Men’s VNL heats up volleyball fans in PH

Press Release

Filipino volleyball fans were taken in for a ride as eight of the top countries showcased their wares in the recently concluded Volleyball Nations League (VNL) held in the country for the third year in a row.

Powered by PLDT Home, VNL Pasay City captivated the thousands in attendance across six days of top-flight volleyball action, led by Japan, the United States, France, Iran, Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, and Brazil playing at the SM Mall of Asia Arena.

With 16 teams making up the league, eight will be moving on to the Final Round set to be held in Lodz, Poland, home of the defending champion. This year’s VNL also carries more significance as this is the last FIVB-sanctioned tournament to serve as Olympic qualifier, with the 12 teams filled up on Sunday.

Making the cut are defending bronze medalist Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Egypt, reigning gold medalist France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Poland, Serbia, Slovenia, and the United States. The silver medalist in the Tokyo Olympics, the Russian Olympic Committee, did not qualify, even under the Individual Neutral Athletes Delegation (INA) banner.

VNL Pasay City produces four playoff-bound teams

Led by the crowd favorite Japanese, which ended the three-week eliminations with a 9-3 record, joining them are defending Olympic gold medalist France (8-4), and Brazil (6-6). Meanwhile, Canada, which first arrived in Manila with an even 4-4 slate, emerged unscathed with an 8-4 record, cracking the top eight with an unbelievable performance. On the other side of the bracket are Slovenia (11-1), Poland (10-2), Italy (9-3), and Argentina (6-6).

 

Japan noses out the United States for the first time in FIVB play

The numbers flashed on the screen before the final game of the VNL Pasay City leg was a staggering count – United States 18, Japan 0–telltale signs of a very lopsided matchup. However, with the Americans already effectively eliminated with a 5-6 record, they fielded in their reserves, with Japan doing the same as two of their key players were already out of action due to injury.’

In front of a loud sellout crowd of 12,424, the two crowd darlings again ended the game in blowout fashion, with Japan sweeping the contest in straight sets, 25-20, 25-23, 25-19. Kento Miyaura led the way for Ryujin Nippon with 18 points, including five aces to end their Philippine foray on a high note.

On the other side, USA team captain Micah Christenson only played in the late stages of the third set when Japan started to pull away. Kyle Ensing top scored for the United States with 14 markers.

Netherlands’ tough game and Nimir’s hopes for 2025

Despite ending the eliminations with team captain Nimir Abdel-Aziz emerging as the tournament’s runaway scoring leader, it was not enough as the Dutch ended up 13th out of 16 teams with a 3-9 record. Nimir went on a scoring tear at the VNL Pasay City, producing 38, 37, 7, and 37 points, respectively, for an average of 29.8 points.

However, after the Netherlands’ tough five-set loss to Canada in its final fixture, 25-21, 22-25, 26-28, 25-14, 9-15, Nimir hinted that his time playing for the national team may already be numbered.

“We will see in the next year, because I think some of us won’t be there (playing) anymore, so it’s also the time for some from the newer, younger generation guys, so we will see how they will develop and try to reach a higher level (of play),” Nimir said in an interview. 

VNL fan experience levelled up

Volleyball has experienced a phenomenal rise in popularity in the Philippines over the past year, relying on its new crop of fans dedicated to their idols. The VNL set up various “Fan Zones” where fans could interact with players–taking selfies, signing autographs, and doing video greetings–an indelible experience.

Fans could also pose with life-sized player standees located across the MOA Arena, as well as the huge VNL logos plastered on the lobbies.

Canada sweeps Manila assignments

Led by the dynamic duo of Stephen Maar and Eric Loeppky, the Canadians swept their four assignments in the tournament, punching a ticket in the Final Eight.

“Fourth game in five days, five-setter, crazy environment, we wanted that win so bad and so did they. I don’t know if that was Nimir [Abdel-Aziz]’s last game with the (Dutch) national team. They wanted to win for him, and we wanted to win for us. It turned out to be a really tough match mentally and also physically,” Loepkky said.

Canada defeated Japan, 25-21, 20-25, 25-15, 20-25, 15-10; Germany, 25-19, 25-18, 25-21; Brazil 26-24, 25-19, 26-24, and the Netherlands, 21-25, 25-22, 28-26, 14-25, 15-9. They are set to have a rematch with Japan in the knockout quarterfinals.

PLDT High Speed Hitters dazzle fans at the VNL

Etching its name in Philippine volleyball, PLDT Home brought in their stars to interact with fans in their dedicated booth set up in the second-floor lobby.

During Saturday’s affair, Kiesha Bedonia, Rachel Austero, Erica Santos, Kim Fajardo, and Kianna Dy, graced the booth, handing out photocards to lucky fans waiting in line. On Sunday, mainstays Fiola Ceballos, Jules Samonte, Shiela Kiseo, Jessey de Leon, and Majoy Baronmet with their fans.

“The VNL is such a big event, and we are excited to see the high-speed and intense games here,” she added.

At the PLDT Home booth, VNL fans also enjoyed live viewing of the games through Cignal, charge their smartphones via charging ports, work on their volleyball skills through Nintendo Switch games, and have their photos printed through a dedicated printer.

PHL starts countdown for 2025 FIVB Men’s World Championship

International and local volleyball luminaries graced the ceremonial ball turnover in anticipation of the upcoming 2025 FIVB Volleyball Men’s World Championship to be hosted by the Philippines in September next year.  

For the first time ever, 32 teams, including the Philippines, will bring in the biggest-ever edition of the global volleyball showpiece, which will be held in both the Smart-Araneta Coliseum and the SM Mall of Asia Arena.

This is the latest in a string of high-level global sporting events hosted by the Philippines, including the 2023 FIBA World Cup, and the inaugural edition of the FIFA Futsal Women’s World Cup next year.

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