Belgium celebrates a point in their 2015 FIVB Volleyball World Grand Prix match
Lausanne, Switzerland, April 1, 2016 - Twelve of the best teams in the world will compete for top spot in FIVB Volleyball World Grand Prix Group 1 when the premier annual women's tournament kicks off in June.
Belgium – Gaining ground after a two-decade absence
Over the last three years, Belgium, also known as the Yellow Tigers, have established themselves as a force to be reckoned with, after two decades away from the international volleyball elite. The European squad made their World Grand Prix debut in 2014 and instantly made their presence felt when they won against former World Grand Prix champions the Netherlands 3-2 (20-25, 25-23, 25-23, 25-27, 15-10) in the Group 2 Final Four. The team progressed to the Final Six in Group 1, but were unsuccessful in producing a victory.
Last year, Belgium finished tenth with two wins and seven losses in the preliminary round, but managed to slay a strong Russia squad 3-0 (25-20, 25-22, 28-26), ending their stint in Pool G on a high note.
Belgium ended their campaign in the 2015 FIVB Volleyball World Grand Prix on a high note with a straight-set victory over multi-titled Russia
Belgium have competed in three FIVB Volleyball Women’s World Championships. In 2014, they finished joint eleventh – their best performance in the competition after a 13th place in 1956 and a 22nd place in 1978.
The Yellow Tigers began competing consistently at a continental level in the 1960s. They made their European Championship debut in 1967 and appeared three more times over the next 20 years. They finished in 14th place in 1967 and 12th place in 1975, 1979 and 1987. Twenty years later, they returned to the competition and landed a seventh place, which paved the way for greater things. In 2009, they placed 11th overall but returned with a breakthrough performance in 2013. They claimed silver in the European League then followed up with a bronze medal finish in the European Championship, where they stunned European powerhouse Serbia in five sets.
Belgium’s rise to the top can be attributed to coach Gert Vande Broek’s guidance. Vande Broek was appointed in 2008 and has worked hard to get his team back on track. He succeeded in 2013, when he steered Belgium to two of their finest performances ever, then piloted the team’s promotion from World Grand Prix Group 2 to the top-tier competition in Group 1.
Belgium coach Gert Vande Broek led his team to two medals in 2013 and an inspiring promotion to World Grand Prix Group 1 in 2014
Player to watch – Charlotte Leys
Charlotte Leys was born in Poperinge, a municipality located in the Belgian province of West Flanders. The 1.84m tall captain of the Yellow Tigers plays her role well as an outside hitter and has been a consistent point-producer for the team. As the captain of the team, Leys and teammate Freya Aelbrecht have brought stability to the team, supporting young guns Kaja Grobelna and Laura Heyrman.
Leys began her club career in the 2007/2008 season with Belgian club Asterix Kieldrecht and stayed with the club for three seasons. She then played for six seasons in Poland with Palac Bydgoszcz, Dabrowa Gornicza and Atom Trefl Sopot, before transferring to Galatasaray in the Turkish League this season.