Japan train in Arena Stozice ahead of the 2017 FIVB Volleyball Women's U23 World Championship in Ljubljana.
Ljubljana, Slovenia, September 9, 2017 - Twelve teams are on the line here in the Slovenian capital, the green capital of Europe, as the 2017 FIVB Volleyball Women's U23 World Championship gets underway on Sunday for top honours in a competition where most players make their final push in transition from age-group categories to full members of their countries' senior squads.
Brazil are the defending champions and will be led by outside hitter Drussyla Costa, who already at 21 showcases a number of awards in her trophy cabinet. She has been collecting international awards since the age of 15, when she was named MVP at the 2011 U16 South American Championship as part of the gold-winning Brazil squad. More recently she won more gold with Brazil at the 2017 FIVB World Grand Prix and also this year at the South American Championship.
But Brazil are up against formidable opposition. The Dominican Republic field a generation of players that two years ago won the FIVB U20 World Championship in Puerto Rico after edging Brazil in the final in five sets.
The Dominican Republic are the only team to have finished on the podium of both previous U23 World Championship - but they will be missing their star player, 20-year-old Brayelin Martinez who was been dropped from the final roster.
Instead, the Dominican Republic, will be led by her 19-year-old sister Jineiry, who was also present when the 'Queens of the Caribbean' picked up the silver medal in 2013 and the bronze in 2015 at the U23 Worlds. The middle blocker has assumed the role of team captain for the Ljubljana event.
The Dominican Republic got out of the Caribbean before airports closed down due to Hurricane Irma and played a friendly in the Italian capital with Volley Group Roma of the B1 Division before arriving in Ljubljana.
Cuba were also able to get out of Havana before Irma struck the island and have arrived safely in Ljubljana.
Brazil and the Dominican Republic head each of the two pools at the 2017 Women's U23 World Championship so the earliest they can meet is in the semifinals.
Then, of course, there's the home team to consider. Slovenia are taking part in the competition for the very first time, but during this decade they've made tremendous progress at a continental level at European age-group championships.
This year they've prepared well for the U23 Worlds, with the team competing at the European qualifiers for the 2018 FIVB World Championship and also considering home advantage, they're another force to be reckoned with.
The competition comprises twelve teams in two pools, with the top two advancing to the semifinals, and the third- and fourth-ranked of each pool playing out for positions 5-8 in the final ranking.
Pool A (Dominican Republic, Egypt, Slovenia, Argentina, China and Thailand) will be played at the 12,500-capacity Dvorana Centre Stozice on the outskirts of the Slovenian capital.
Pool B (Brazil, Turkey, Kenya, Cuba, Japan, Bulgaria) will be at the 5,000-seat Sportna Dvorana Tivoli, in downtown Ljubljana.
All matches in Ljubljana are played under a new scoring system currently being tested
by the FIVB: a best-of-seven, 15-point set format.
Testing is also conducted of a new serving rule, with servers not allowed to land inside the court after their attempt.Quick links - Volleyball:FIVB Volleyball Women's U23 World Championship 2017
FIVB Volleyball Women's U23 World Championship 2017 - ScheduleFIVB Volleyball Women's U23 World Championship 2017 - Teams
FIVB.com - VolleyballFIVB.com
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