qualified for Group 1’s Final Six in the FIVB World League with a tense 3-2 (25-22, 19-25, 25-22, 28-30, 15-12) victory over
in Cordoba on Friday.
strengthened their chances with a five-set (25-23, 25-13, 24-26, 22-25, 15-10) victory over Belgium
in Antwerp, while Final Six hosts Brazil
breezed past Bulgaria
3-0 (25-15, 25-19, 25-22), also in Cordoba.
In the day’s other Group 1 match in Antwerp, Italy
got the better of France
in another pulsating five-setter: 20-25, 25-21, 24-26, 25-20, 16-14.
There were six matches in Group 2, with leaders Slovenia
earning maximum points in a spell-binding match against Egypt
in Cairo. The overall score was 3-0, but the set scores tell a different story: 25-23, 39-27, 25-23. Behind Slovenia, the Netherlands
both raised their records to 5-2 on the back of very different wins.
The Dutch had few problems defeating Korea
3-0 (25-21, 25-16, 25-16) in The Hague, but Japan
pushed Australia to the limit in Kunshan, China, with the Aussies prevailing 3-2 (29-27, 18-25, 24-26, 25-21, 15-9). Japan fell to 4-3 but are fourth in the Group 2 standings.
The Czech Republic
are also on 4-3 after the two neighbouring countries clashed in The Hague, with the Czechs easing to a 3-0 (25-16, 25-23, 25-17) victory.
leapfrogged opponents Turkey
into seventh place with a 3-0 victory in Kunshan. Again, the scoreline doesn’t tell the whole story until you add the set scores: 43-41, 26-24, 25-21. The day’s other Group 2 match saw Portugal
3-1 (20-25, 25-22, 25-19, 25-22) in Cairo.
There were no Group 3 matches on Friday as the competition has reached its final stage. Saturday’s semi-finals will see hosts Mexico
take on Estonia
, while Germany
will face Spain
in an all-European clash.
Saturday sees some huge Group 1 matches on the schedule, including:
Argentina v Brazil
Italy v Belgium
France v Canada.
Quick links - Volleyball:
Drazen Luburic led the scorers as defending champions Serbia qualified for the 2017 World League Final Six after withstanding a brilliant Argentina fightback in Cordoba. The Serbs struggled throughout to claim their sixth victory in seven games and draw level with Group 1 leaders France. They relied on the four-headed threat of Drazen Luburic (19 points), Marko Ivovic
(18 points), Uros Kovacevic
(17 points) and Srecko Lisinac
(16 points). Martin Ramos led Argentina with 18 points.
Italy kept alive their slim hopes of progressing to the Final Six as they ended France's unbeaten record in a pulsating 3-2 victory (20-25, 25-21, 24-26, 25-20, 16-14). The competition’s top-scorer, Stephen Boyer
, who began the match with 106 points from six matches, added another 19 for France alongside team-mate Thibault Rossard
, but it was sturdy Italian defence which saw the underdogs to victory. Matteo Piano
(five) and Fabio Ricci
(four) led the way with some outstanding blocks as Italy largely thwarted a French attack that had outgunned so many teams in their first six matches. The Italians also looked extremely dangerous in attack with Luigi Randazzo
, Luca Vettori
and Ricci all weighing in with 14 points.
Canada boosted their hopes of qualifying for the 2017 World League Final Six after withstanding a brilliant Belgian fightback to win a five-set thriller (25-23, 25-13, 24-26, 22-25, 15-10) in Friday’s late Group 1 game in Antwerp. Stephen Timothy Maar
was in electric form for the Pan-American Games bronze medallists, he poured in 24 points to lead the Canadian attack, while Graham Vigrass
and Daniel Vandoorn
weighed in with 16 points apiece. Vital Heynen
’s hosts, who were on the backfoot for much of the contest, were led by Gert van Walle
who chipped in with 20 points
“This was a hard game and I'm happy with the win,” said Canada coach Stephane Antiga
. “We could have won 3-0, but we didn't.”
scored 17 points and led Slovenia to a closely contested 3-0 win over Egypt on Friday. In what may serve as a consolation prize for the home team, Ahmed Abdelhay
was the night’s top scorer, having put 23 points on the board. The second set was a nailbiter from start to finish. Slovenia managed to build a slender 22-20 lead, but Egypt took a few points in a row to earn set point. Slovenia persevered, however, saving a few set points of their own before finishing the long set. A powerful spike from Gasparini sealed the set for Slovenia at 39-37.
scored a match high of 17 points contributing to China's 3-0 (43-41, 26-24, 25-21) victory over Turkey. The first set saw an amazing battle between the two teams with China prevailing 43-41. Turkey were close to winning it when they extended their lead to 22-19 but three great rallies let China level the scores at 22 and eventually to win the set.
scored a match high 27 points contributing to Australia's 3-2 (29-27, 18-25, 24-26, 25-21, 15-9) victory over Japan. Luke Smith
added 22 points for the winning side while Japan were led by Haku Ri
and Issei Otake
, who scored a team high of 16 points each.
The first semi-final between Germany and Spain takes place at 22:00 GMT on Saturday in Leon, Mexico. The winners of that clash will face either Mexico or Estonia, whose semi-final starts two and a half hours later. The final will take place on Sunday.