Turin, Italy, September 26, 2018 - A nail-biting Brazil comeback over Russia masterminded by coach Renan Dal Zotto and executed by setter William Arjona, plus a clean sweep by Serbia that stunned hosts Italy, got the 2018 FIVB World Championship Final Six off to an amazing start, Wednesday night here in the capital of Piedmont.
Serbia silenced the sellout crowd at the Pala Alpitour with an amazing 3-0 (25-15, 25-20, 25-18) win over hosts Italy that sees the Balkan side already with one foot in the semifinals. Before the Italians even had time to blink, it was all over, in well under an hour and a half, as Marko Ivovic served four aces and Aleksandar Atanasijevic scored 19 points.Russia's Maxim Mikhaylov gets blocked by Brazil's Lucas Saatkamp and Wallace De Souza, Wednesday evening in Turin.
Earlier in the evening, some creative substituting by Dal Zotto helped Brazil stay on track for a fourth world title, after rallying from two sets down to beat reigning European champions Russia 3-2 (20-25, 21-25, 25-22, 25-23, 15-12).Other Wednesday highlights:
• Serbia served five aces and attacked for 63% (12/19) in the first set, upped their offensive game to 65% (17/26) in the third, plus produced an incredible digging performance all along that cannot be even correctly quantified to set the foundations for their sweep of Italy.
• Russia gifted Brazil 12 points from unforced errors in the first set, but the South Americans still couldn't get the remaining 13 they needed - but when the final count was in the total of 37 points wasted away by Russia (to Brazil's 26) proved decisive.
• Quote of the day, from William Arjona: "At 39, having played a role in this win is too much to handle."
• Russia are now in a must-win situation on Thursday against USA to avoid returning home early.
• Brazil rest on Thursday, but could qualify without even playing, if Russia lose again.
• Serbia can advance to the medals round with just one set against Poland on Thursday.
• Of players remaining in contention, Brazil's Wallace De Souza leads the scoring on 130 points, after bringing in 22 today. He still needs 19 to reach tournament leader John Gordon Perrin who stopped at 149 after Canada were eliminated in Round 2. The all-time World Championship high of 271 by Puerto Rico's Hector Soto from 2006 is realistically beyond reach.Match Centres:
• Brazil - Russia 3-2
• Italy - Serbia 0-3
Play continues on Thursday at the Pala Alpitour with the second matchday of pool play, which could already see the first semifinalists claim their tickets.Match Centres for Thursday 27 September in Turin:
• USA v Russia (Pool I) at 17:00 local time (15:00 GMT)
• Poland v Serbia (Pool J) at 20:30 local time (18:30 GMT)A sellout crowd at Turin's Pala Alpitour went home disappointed, Wednesday night, as Serbia crushed Italy.Quick links - Volleyball:FIVB Volleyball Men's World Championship Italy-Bulgaria 2018NewsScheduleCompetitionTeamsResults and rankingTicketsVolleyball TV