Lausanne, Switzerland, June 2, 2017 - One ticket to the 2018 FIVB Women's World Championship is up for grabs today when Azerbaijan clash with The Netherlands, while other deciders across Europe will place teams in positions to claim remaining berths on Sunday, as the European qualifiers reach their climax.Quick links - Volleyball:
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Reigning European champions Russia remained the only undefeated team in Pool A in Osijek after a 3-1 (25-10, 24-26, 25-16, 25-23) win over Greece Friday.
Greece cancelled a set point at 24-23 in the second set to make a three-point run and tie the game at 1-1, but eventually were no match for Russia who were led by Nataliya Goncharova's 21 points (19/35 kills for 54%) and another 17 by Irina Zaryazhko (4 suffs and 10/15 kills for 67%).
The two sides had 11 stuffs each, but Russia served 11 aces to 4 and created all sorts of problems for the Greek reception. Maria Nomikou scored 16 points for Greece.Greece's Alkistis Karafoulidou strikes past the block of Russia's Mariia Frolova and Irina Zaryazkho in Osijek.
Greece will meet Austria on Saturday in what could be the decider for second place, after Austria beat Georgia 3-0 (25-14, 25-16, 25-14) on Friday.
With an impressive 15/18 kills for 83% Srna Markovic scored 15 points to lead Austria.
Hungary staged a remarkable comeback win 3-2 (19-25, 30-32, 25-15, 25-21, 15-11) over Croatia in the other match of the day for their first victory in the tournament.Turkey, Bulgaria remain on track
Turkey and Bulgaria both remained undefeated in Pool C in Sofia, after registering straight-set wins on Friday. They clash on Saturday in what will likely be the decider for who goes to Japan.
Turkey beat Romania 3-0 (25-14, 25-19, 25-18) with coach Giovanni Guidetti sticking to his starting six throughout the game and Neriman Ozsoy emerging top scorer on 14 points and Kubra Akman contributing five stuffs.
Hosts Bulgaria, meanwhile, shut out Montenegro 3-0 (25-15, 25-12, 25-13) on the back of 12 points by Gergania Dimitrova and another 11 by Emilya Nikolova as Elitsa Vasileva remained on the bench.
Switzerland scored their first victory in the tournamnt with a 3-0 (25-11, 25-8, 25-15) sweep of Kosovo.Italy, Belgium headed for showdown
Italy and Belgium remained undefeated in Pool D in Kortrijk and barring any upsets on Saturday will play the decider on Sunday for a ticket to Japan 2018.
Italy destroyed Latvia 3-0 (25-12, 25-9, 25-16) with Sara Loda scoring 16 points, Anna Danesi adding 12 and setter Alessia Orro making her first appearance in the tournament and playing the whole match. Italy served nine aces to one to keep Latvia's reception in check.Italy's Sara Bonifacio hits past the block of Latvia's Tereze Hrapane in Kortrijk.
And pool hosts Belgium were led by Lise van Hecke's 22 points in their 3-1 (25-23, 23-25, 25-17, 25-17) win over Belarus. Belgium were unstoppable in attack, including kill rates of 73% (11/15) by Laura Heyrman and 63% (12/19) by Freya Aelbrecht.
Spain scored their first win in the tournament, 3-2 (22-25, 25-20, 20-25, 25-23, 15-10) over Bosnia and Herzegovina in the other match of the day in Kortrijk.Azerbaijan and the Netherlands for ticket to Japan
Undefeated sides Azerbaijan or The Netherlands will be going to the 2018 FIVB World Championship from Pool E, when they meet in the deciding game in Baku on Saturday. The loser of the game will continue in Round 3 of the European qualifiers for another shot at Japan 2018.
Pool hosts Azerbaijan thundered past Israel 3-0 (25-9, 25-14, 25-18) with Polina Rahomiva scoring 15 points as Ayshan Abdulazimova (with 6/9 kills for 63% and three stuffs from the middle plus four aces) and Natalya Mamadova (11/16 kills for 69%) added another 13 each.
But The Netherlands avoided a major upset and survived a mighty scare as the Ukraine pushed them all the way, before the final 3-1 (30-28, 18-25, 25-13, 27-25). The Ukraine blew two set balls at 24-23 and 25-24 in the fourth set and failed to force a tie-break.
Lonneke Sloetjes was on the starting lineup for the first time in the tournament and scored 23 points to lead The Netherlands. The Ukraine's Olesia Rykhliuk, though, was top scorer of the game with 27.
Norway overcame Denmark in the Scandinavian derby 3-1 (21-25, 25-15, 25-23, 25-15) in the other match of the day in Baku.
The Baku pool began a day earlier and wraps up on Saturday, one day ahead of the other groups of this week.Germany take advantage
Germany handed hosts Portugal their first defeat in the tournament at Viana do Castelo with a 3-1 (25-18, 25-15, 15-25, 25-11) win that left them the only undefeated team.
Jennifer Geerties with 13 points and Maren Brinker with 12 were Germany's top scorers, to counter the 20 points scored by Portugal's Julia Kavalenka.
Portugal meet Slovenia on Saturday in what could very decide second place in the pool, after Slovenia beat Estonia 3-0 (25-19, 25-20, 25-12).
Finland bagged their first win in the tournament after beating winless France 3-0 (26-24, 25-18, 25-17).Germany put up a triple block by Denise Hanke, Leonie Schwertmann and Maren Brinker to try and stop Portugal's Marta Hurst in Viana do Castelo.
The top team from each pool advances directly to the 2018 FIVB Women's World Championship in Japan. The second-ranked team of each pool continues in Round 3 of the European qualifiers for two more tickets to Japan 2018.
Last week Rio 2016 silver medallists Serbia became the first team to qualify for the 2018 World Championship when they dominated their pool in Warsaw with an absolutely perfect record. The Czech Republic finished second in Warsaw after stunning hosts Poland for second chance in Round 3.
Japan as hosts and USA as defending champions have already secured their tickets to Japan 2018.