Bulgaria's Tsvetan Sokolov blocks Trevor Clevenot, but France open 2017 World League in style.
Lausanne, Switzerland, June 5, 2017 - The 2017 FIVB World League kicked off a brand new Olympic cycle over the weekend with some unbelievably incredible action across the globe, as the 36 participating teams embarked on the long road that will lead up to the 2018 FIVB World Championship in Italy and Bulgaria and the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.Quick links - Volleyball:
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France, the 2015 World League gold medallists and reigning European champions, are the only undefeated team after the opening weekend of play, after Rio 2016 gold medallists Brazil lost to Poland, defending champions Serbia fell to Belgium, and reigning world champions Poland faltered against Iran.
Olympic champion Evandro Guerra dominated the headlines on the opening weekend, as he top-scored in all three of Brazil's matches and now leads the best scorers table with a tally of 68 - despite being at the wrong end of some spectaculers defending.
And London 2012 Olympic champions Russia provided some of the best blocking over the weekend, with Denis Biriukov and Ilia Vlasov bagging 11 stuffs each, closing in on an average of almost one per set played.
Teams regroup this week, as we head into the second weekend, 9-12 June, with Bulgaria hosting Canada, Brazil and Poland in Varna; Iran welcoming Serbia, Argentina and Belgium in Tehran; and France entertaining Italy, USA and Russia in Pau.Chuan Jiang storms into elite 'club'
China's Chuan Jiang became the latest player to join the 'Over 30s' club of players who have scored 30 points or more in a single World League match. The 23-year-old opposite netted 32 points on the opening day against Turkey in Ankara and became the 39th player to join the list.
The World League record still stands at an incredible 41 points, scored by Canada's Paul Duerden against Spain in 1999.
Despite Chuan's contribution, China lost the match to Turkey - and at the end of the weekend it was Turkey's Metin Toy who led the Group 2 scorers table with 67 points (to Chuan's 65).
Turkey, together with Slovakia and Slovenia, remained undefeated after the opening weekend. But something has to give next weekend as teams head into the next round, where Japan greet Turkey, Korea and Slovenia in Takasaki; Finland host China, Slovakia and Australia in Helsinki; and the Czech Republic welcome Portugal, Egypt and The Netherlands in Ceske Budejovice.Germany, Spain lead Group 3 race
Germany, who missed out on promotion last year after going down in the Group 3 final to Slovenia, opened this year's campaign in decisive fashion, as together with Spain they remain the only two undefeated teams in Group 3 after the first weekend.
Simon Hirsch of Germany gets past the block of Venezuela's Fernando Gonzalez and Edson Valencia in Frankfurt.
Meanwhile, both of the World League debutants, Estonia and Austria, made their entrance in style, scoring two wins each in their opening weekend, ahead of hosting pools themselves in the next leg.
Estonia greet Greece, Qatar and Venezuela in Tallinn; Austria entertain Spain, Germany and Mexico in Linz; and Tunisia host Kazakhstan, Montenegro and Chinese Taipei in Tunis.