Thrilling five-setters in Varna highlight start of World Championship’s second round


One of Aleksandar Atanasijevic’s many successful spikes in the match against France

Lausanne, Switzerland, September 21, 2018 – Varna’s Palace of Culture and Sports was the arena of huge excitement on the first competition day of the 2018 FIVB Volleyball Men’s World Championship’s second round, as two thrilling five-setters highlighted the race to the final six spots, with Serbia persevering to win an extended tie-breaker against France, and underdogs Argentina stunning the so-far unbeaten reigning champs from Poland after scoring four in a row to close the winning set at 16-14.

An outstanding Aleksandar Atanasijevic not only led Serbia to their first-ever World Championship win over France in Pool H, but also tied Hector Soto’s all-time record of 38 points scored by one player in a single World Championship game, set in 2006.

With the world champions conceding their first defeat in Varna, both Poland and Serbia now stand at 5-1 with coach Vital Heynen’s squad edging on top of the pool standings by two points.

Friday’s results leave only two teams, USA and co-hosts Italy, undefeated in the competition, while Australia and Finland lost all chances to advance to the next round and will be leaving the tournament after their games on Sunday.

Argentina’s captain Luciano De Cecco and his teammates triumphant with a dramatic success against Poland

Other Friday highlights:
• Atanasijevic was not the only one to reach the 30+ mark in the game Serbia vs. France. On the losing side, Stephen Boyer topped the charts with 34 points.
• Serbia are now on a five-match winning streak.
• USA extended their unbeaten run to six matches at the World Championship after dominating Canada in the North American derby on the way to a four-set victory in Pool G. Canada started the week as Pool B leaders, but followed up with three defeats in a row.
• This 6-0 streak is USA’s best start ever at a World Championship.
• The Netherlands’ unexpected four-match winning streak came to an end on Friday. The Dutch failed to win any sets against Russia in their first Pool E game. The two teams are now at a 4-2 win-loss record with the Russians edging the Dutch in the pool standings by two points.
• Brazil started their Pool F campaign with a compelling straight-set victory over Australia, upping their record to 5-1 on top of the current pool standings and leaving the Volleyroos out of contention for the spots in the next round.
• Co-hosts Bulgaria took revenge for their Pool D loss to Iran in Varna and shut out the Asian standouts in their Pool G clash in Sofia to move up to the second place in the current pool standings with a 4-2 record, leaving Iran behind by one point.
• Bulgaria’s Todor Skrimov hammered out a record seven aces in the match to help his nation achieve their 100th victory in the history of the World Championships. 
• Argentina hit the brake on a 27-game losing streak against Poland in major world-level competitions, running since 1998.
• Slovenia are back on the winning track. After losing their previous two games at the World Championship, they claimed a straight-set victory over Belgium to jump ahead of them in the runner-up position of the Pool F standings. This was Slovenia’s second win over Belgium in the tournament after the 3-2 turnaround in the first round.
• Italy cruised to an emphatic 3-0 win over Finland in their opening match in Pool E. The home side are the only team with a complete set of 18 points from the six matches played, while the squad from the north no longer have a shot at making the finals in Turin. 

Bulgaria’s Todor Skrimov serving for one of his seven aces against Iran

Match Centres:

Slovenia’s top scorer in the match with Belgium, Klemen Cebulj, spikes against a three-men block

Second round action will continue on Saturday with another set of eight matches to be played in the four pools in Milan, Bologna, Sofia and Varna.

Match Centres for Saturday, 22 September:


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