USA down Serbia and favourites win as World Championship picks up


Lausanne, Switzerland, September 12, 2018 - USA twice came from behind to beat Serbia 3-2 in the first and so far only five-setter of the 2018 FIVB Volleyball World Championship, while all favourites scored wins (with varying degrees of difficulty) on Wednesday, as the tournament got in full swing today across cities in Italy and Bulgaria. Meanwhile, defending champions Poland began their quest to retain the title with a shaky 3-1 win over Cuba, Rio 2016 Olympic champions Brazil survived Egypt's blocking for a 3-0 sweep of the African side and Belgium outblocked Argentina in other top matches of the day.

The winners all join co-hosts Italy and Bulgaria who three days earlier had opened the FIVB's flagship competition with victories over Japan and Finland respectively for 1-0 records.

Stephen Boyer hits above the Chinese block of Liu Libin and Chen Longhai as he leads France to victory in Ruse.

Wednesday's highlights:
• World Championships debutantes Slovenia lost their very first set ever in the competition, but quickly bounced back to register their first ever victory, 3-1 over the Dominican Republic in Florence, with a tournament-high 13 aces (seven by Mitja Gasparini alone).
• And Belgium registered a tournament-high 15 blocks in their four-set win over Argentina, which sees the Europeans join Italy and Slovenia at the top of the standings in Pool A.
• Brazil, Canada and France lead the standings in Pool B at Ruse after all scored convincing straight-set wins on Wednesday over Egypt, the Netherlands and China.
• Stephen Boyer of France shot to the top of the best scorers list with 23 points in just three sets against China.
• In Bari, despite conceding as many as 33 unforced errors, USA outlasted Serbia in five entertaining sets and a block fest of 15 American stuffs to 12 of the Balkan team.
• Cameroon shut out Tunisia 3-0 in the African derby. This was Cameroon's third win historically in 17 matches so far in World Championships.
• Russia carried over the momentum they built at the inaugural Volleyball Nations League earlier this season to make easy work of Australia and move top of Pool C together with Cameroon and USA.
• And in Varna, Poland stuffed Cuba 14 times to counter for the nine aces the defending champions conceded in their four-set win.
• Also in Varna, Iran beat Puerto Rico 3-0, topping the standings of Pool D alongside Bulgaria and Poland.

Klemen Cebulj punches through the Dominican Republic block of Richi Paulino and Francisco Abreu as Slovenia make their World Championship debut with a historic win.

Match Centres:
Dominican Republic - Slovenia 1-3.
Belgium v Argentina 3-1.
France - China 3-0.
The Netherlands - Canada 0-3.
Brazil - Egypt 3-0.
Cameroon - Tunisia 3-0.
Australia - Russia 0-3.
USA - Serbia 3-2.
Iran - Puerto Rico 3-0.
Cuba - Poland 1-3.

Nathan Wounembaina gets past the triple block of Tunisia's Elyes Karamosli, Ahmed Kadhi and Khaled Ben Slimene as he guides Cameroon to victory in the African derby of the 2018 FIVB World Championship.

Play continues on Thursday, September 13 in Florence, Ruse, Bari and Varna with eight more 1st Round pool play matches, with focus on the clashes of undefeated sides, Brazil v France and Bulgaria v Iran:

Match Centres for Thursday 13 September:
Dominican Republic v Japan in Florence (Pool A) at 17:00 local time (15:00 GMT)
Italy v Belgium in Florence (Pool A) at 21:15 local time (19:15 GMT)
Egypt v Canada in Ruse (Pool B) at 17:00 local time (14:00 GMT)
Brazil v France in Ruse (Pool B) at 20:30 local time (17:30 GMT)
Australia v USA in Bari (Pool C) at 17:00 local time (15:00 GMT)
Cameroon v Serbia in Bari (Pool C) at 20:30 local time (18:30 GMT)
Puerto Rico v Poland in Varna (Pool D) at 17:00 local time (14:00 GMT)
Iran v Bulgaria in Varna (Pool D) at 20:40 local time (17:40 GMT)

Quick links - Volleyball:
FIVB Volleyball Men's World Championship Italy-Bulgaria 2018
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