Lausanne, Switzerland, September 22, 2018 – USA, Brazil, Serbia and Italy became the first four teams to book their tickets to Turin for the third stage of the 2018 FIVB Volleyball Men’s World Championship.
The Americans put on display another out-of-this-world performance in Sofia to disappoint some nine thousand home spectators on the stands with a straight-set victory over hosts Bulgaria. This was the United States’ seventh consecutive win since the start of the tournament and it guaranteed them the top spot in Pool G a day early. They remain the only unbeaten team at the World Championship.
As soon as they levelled the score against Russia after the fourth set of their Pool E match in Milan, hosts Italy pinned their name to the first place in the final standings. Based on Saturday’s results in other pools, the Italians had already secured their trip to Turin even before this game, at the very least as one of the best two pool runners-up. But they missed the chance to delight some 13 thousand fans, cheering them on from the stands, with another victory as Russia put a stop to their six-match winning streak by claiming the tie-breaker.
Brazil also made sure they are out of reach on top of Pool F with an impressive shutout of Slovenia in the first ever encounter between these two teams in a major world level competition. At the end of this match, the Serbs could also start celebrating over in Varna, because it was already clear that they would travel to Turin even if they did not finish atop their Pool H.
After contributing three aces to Brazil’s win over Slovenia, setter Bruno Mossa Rezende celebrates the ticket to the next round
Other Saturday highlights:
• Argentina, Canada, Iran and Slovenia no longer have a shot at advancing to the next round, while six teams - Belgium, Bulgaria, France, Netherlands, Poland and Russia - are theoretically still in contention for the two remaining vacancies.
• Serbia mastered their sixth consecutive win at the World Championship, this time a shutout of Argentina, which put them on top of Pool H and upped their all-time record against the South American side in major world level competitions to 4-0.
• Canada improved their record against Iran in major world level competitions to 3-0, after winning the five-set battle in Pool G in Sofia.
• Two Canadians fell one short of the 30-point mark. With 29 points apiece John Gordon Perrin and Nicholas Hoag shared the top scorer honours in the match.
• Australia failed to score their first ever win over Belgium in major world level competitions, as the European squad managed a hard-fought straight-setter in their seventh encounter, to stay alive in Pool F.
• 15 kill blocks and 13 aces helped the Netherlands recover from Friday’s loss to Russia with a four-set victory over Finland for a 5-2 win-loss record that keeps the final six spots within reach.
• Defending world champions Poland conceded their second defeat in a row. Earvin Ngapeth unlocked his magic to contribute 26 points, including four aces, to France’s four-set win, their first ever over Poland out of their five World Championship encounters.
• The game between Italy and Russia in Milan was officially attended by 12,875 spectators, the largest audience at the 2018 World Championship so far.
France’s Earvin Ngapeth spikes against a two-men Polish block
Fantastic ambience at a sold-out Mediolanum for the game between Italy and Russia
Second round action will be completed on Sunday with another set of eight matches to be played in the four pools in Milan, Bologna, Sofia and Varna.
Match Centres for Sunday, 23 September: