Warsaw, Poland, May 23, 2017 - Hot favourites Serbia and pool hosts Poland took the first step towards a ticket for the 2018 FIVB Women's World Championship, on the opening day of Pool B of the European qualifiers, as both downed the representatives of the Small Countries Division with remarkable and expected ease.
A very plucky Iceland looked Rio 2016 Olympic silver medallists Serbia straight in the eyes and although they were hardly a match for them put up a brave fight before going down 3-0 (25-13, 25-15, 25-9) - though not before Serbia got stuffed six times.Stefana Veljkovic sends the ball past Iceland's Frida Sigurdardottir as Serbia open with a straight-set win in Warsaw.
It was Serbia's first official appearance on the courts after their four-set defeat to China in the Rio 2016 final.
Brankica Mihajlovic who played all three sets led the scoring for Serbia with 15 points, with Tijana Boskovic adding 13 before coach Zoran Terzic brought on several subs for set three.
Serbia got only five blocks (three of those in the third set), as Stefana Veljkovic stood in nicely for Milena Rasic who is absent, getting 6/7 kills from the middle.
But Iceland suffered in reception, conceding as many as 16 aces - five from reserve Bianka Busa just in the third set and another four from Mihajlovic.
Poland, who are eying a return to the World Championship after missing out in 2014, also opened with a straight-set win, but Cyprus gave them a run for their money - including breaking away in the third set for a 7-1 and 8-2 lead, before the home side completed a 10-0 run to take control again.
Natalia Medrzyk with 12 points led Poland, who served 12 aces to Cyprus' three, as the visitors also struggled to make the final kills in attack.
Earlier, to start off the Warsaw pool, the Czech Republic bounced back after dropping the first set to edge Slovakia 3-1 (18-25, 25-15, 25-17, 25-16).Slovakia's Nina Herelova tries to block the Czech Republic's Barbora Purchartova in the World Championship qualifiers in Warsaw.
Michaela Milejnkova with 20 points and 17/33 for 52% in attack led the Czech Republic, with Aneta Havlickova adding another 14. Setter Pavla Vincourova also contributed 11 points, including 3 aces, 2 blocks and 6/6 attacks.
The Warsaw pool was moved a week earlier to accommodate Cyprus and Iceland who compete in the 17th Games of the Small States of Europe next week in San Marino. The other five women's pools of the European qualifiers for the World Championship are next week.
The top teams from the six European pools qualify directly to the World Championship in Japan. The second-ranked of each pool will advance to Round III of the continental qualifiers for two more available tickets to Japan.
Japan as hosts, USA as defending champions and Brazil as 2015 South American champions have already secured their participation in the 2018 World Championship.Quick links - Volleyball:
FIVB Volleyball Men's World Championship 2018FIVB Volleyball Women's World Championship 2018FIVB.com - VolleyballFIVB.com
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