Lausanne, Switzerland, September 18, 2018 - Argentina claimed the last available spot amongst the world's best 16 teams, after taking two sets from Japan, Tuesday evening in Florence, as Round 1 of the 2018 FIVB Volleyball Men's World Championship wrapped up across cities in Italy and Bulgaria. Japan had two set balls in the third to stay alive, but Argentina got it right in their own seventh to gain a 2-1 lead, secure one point in the standings of Pool A and clinch the last ticket to Round 2.
As it turned out, Japan went on to force a tie-break and eventually win the match - but it was too little, too late. At 230 points it was the highest-scoring match of the tournanemt so far (though well short of the 246 in Italy's 3-2 win over Argentina in 2002 in Buenos Aires). It is the first time in the history of the World Championships that two players score 30 points or more in a single game.
Teams qualified to Round 2 (all teams carry over their results from Round 1):
Italy, the Netherlands, Russia, Finland, Brazil, Belgium, Slovenia, Australia, USA, Iran, Bulgaria, Canada, Poland, Serbia, France, Argentina.
Slovenia's Tine Urnaut goes up against the double block of Italy's Simone Giannelli and Daniele Mazzone, Tuesday night in Florence.
Other Tuesday highlights:
• Co-hosts Italy rallied from a set down to beat Slovenia in Florence and finish Round 1 undefeated, at the top of Pool A.
• USA shut out Tunisia 3-0 in Bari to finish top of Pool B undefeated, following a 5-win run. The result left Tunisia winless.
• In this game, in Bari, USA tied the all-time serving for a team effort in a single match with 17 aces. That's an amazing almost six aces per set. Russia had previously served 17 aces in 2014 in their win over Bulgaria in Gdansk, but that was in five sets, for a 3.4 average per set.
• Serbia made a 5-0 run from 8-11 down in the tie-break to beat Russia in Bari.
• Brazil finished Round 1 on a high note with a three-set sweep of winless China. That was just enough to see the Rio 2016 Olympic champions claim first place in Pool C on a better set-ratio than the Netherlands.
• Poland handed Bulgaria the co-hosts' second defeat in the tournament, in four sets, as the defending champions remained undefeated and topped the standings of Pool D in Varna.
• Two more players made the 'Over 30s Club' in the Japan v Argentina (3-2) game, with Facundo Conte scoring 33 for the losers and Yuji Nishida bagging 30 for the winners.
• Brazil's Wallace de Souza added 21 points against China and at 87 overall shares top position in the scorers' table with Chuan Jiang who scored 10 for China in the same game. At the end of Round 1 Cuba's Miguel Gutierrez is in third place, just one point behind the leaders.
Stephen Boyer of France tries to squeeze the ball between the antenna and the block of Canada's Sharone Vernon-Evans, Tuesday in Ruse.
• Japan - Argentina 3-2
• Italy - Slovenia 3-1
• China - Brazil 0-3
• Canada - France 1-3
• USA - Tunisia 3-0
• Serbia - Russia 3-2
• Finland - Iran 2-3
• Bulgaria - Poland 1-3
Artur Szalpuk of Poland tries to beat the block of Svetoslav Gotsev and Nikolay Uchikov, as the defending champions beat the co-hosts in four sets at Varna to stay undefeated at the top of Pool D.
Teams travel to their next destinations for their 2nd Round Pools on Wednesday and then rest on Thursday as they prepare for the coming weekend's action in Milan, Bologna, Sofia and Varna.
Quick links - Volleyball:
FIVB Volleyball Men's World Championship Italy-Bulgaria 2018
Results and ranking