Azerbaijan’s Polina Rahimova was not only the best scorer against Trinidad & Tobago, but also the best scorer of the day across all pools with 27 points and best scorer of the World Championship so far with 93 points
Lausanne, Switzerland, October 3, 2018 – Six more teams secured their spots in the second round of the FIVB Volleyball Women’s World Championship in Japan after the penultimate fourth leg of the first round was completed on Wednesday - Japan and Germany from Pool A, Turkey from Pool B, Thailand and Azerbaijan from Pool C and Brazil from Pool D.
With China, Italy, the Netherlands, Russia, Serbia and USA having qualified a leg earlier, there are only four remaining vacancies in the second round to be decided on Thursday, with Mexico and Cameroon in contention for one spot in Pool A, Bulgaria and Canada facing each other for one spot in Pool B, and the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico and Kenya in the race for two spots in Pool D.
In the most interesting match of the fourth leg, the only five-setter of the day, USA wasted a two-set advantage against Thailand in Pool C, before persevering to win the tie-breaker and stay undefeated in Kobe. Both teams had already booked their tickets to the next stage before their clash got underway.
Earlier in the tournament, the Thais had managed to reach a deciding fifth set against another big name, Russia, and deserved a lot of credit for doing the same and putting the reigning world champions with their backs against the wall on Wednesday, before succumbing in the tie-breaker.
USA’s Michelle Bartsch-Hackley and Thailand’s Ajcharaporn Kongyot both sat out the last set, but stayed on the top of the scorers’ chart of the match with 23 points apiece. The Americans tallied an impressive 17 kill blocks on the way to the victory, with seven of those credited to the name of Foluke Akinradewo.
Spectacular action at the net during the thrilling five-setter between USA and Thailand
Other Wednesday highlights:
• In a match between the first and the last in the current standings in Pool A, the Netherlands shut out Argentina to stay unbeaten at this World Championship and improve their all-time record against this South American opponent in major world-level competitions to 7-0. Lonneke Sloetjes was back on the court, firing 23 points towards her team’s success.
• By shutting out Mexico, Germany became the second team in Pool A to advance to the second round. Hosts Japan followed suit with a 3-0 victory over Cameroon despite a great blocking effort (11 stuffs) from the African squad. Both Germany and Japan are on a 3-1 win-loss record before facing each other on Thursday.
• Italy remained perfect in Pool B, registering their fourth consecutive 3-0 victory since the start of the tournament. They defeated Turkey, whose rollercoaster ride alternating wins with losses so far has brought them to a 2-2 record, which, however, at this point appears to be enough for a secure place in the top four in the final standings of the pool.
• Canada and Cuba delivered the first game in Pool B that lasted longer than three sets. The North Americans came back from a set down on the way to a 3-1 victory, not only their first at this World Championship, but also their first against this opponent at any major world-level competition. It keeps them in contention for the second round. On Thursday they will be duelling for one spot with Bulgaria, who surprised Olympic champions China by winning the first set against them, before losing the next three.
• After an extended first set, Azerbaijan shut out Trinidad & Tobago in Thursday’s early Pool C match, with Polina Rahimova hammering out 27 points to stay on top of the tournament’s best scorers chart with a total of 93 points, 10 clear of second best Nataliya Goncharova, who scored “only” 24 points for Russia’s straight-set win over Korea. As soon as those two games were over, both Azerbaijan and Thailand could celebrate their advancement to the second stage of the World Championship.
• After four legs were completed in Pool D, there has not been a single match to last longer than three sets so far. Thursday’s program in Hamamatsu started with a Caribbean derby, in which the Dominican Republic delivered a three-set victory over Puerto Rico. With both teams at 2-2, neither of them are sure to advance, as Kenya are still in contention.
• Brazil’s emphatic straight-set victory over Kenya in Pool D was hardly unexpected, but it stamped the South American standout’s pass to the second round. Earlier on Thursday, the only unbeaten team in the pool, Serbia, hammered out a routine victory over the only winless team in the pool, Kazakhstan, to maintain an impeccable sets won-lost record of 12-0.
Bulgaria’s libero Zhana Todorova made a few fantastic digs in the match against Olympic champs China
Louisa Lippmann delivered another great scoring performance for Germany
The fifth competition day in Japan on Thursday is the last of the first round and features another set of 12 matches to be played across the four pools in Yokohama, Sapporo, Kobe and Hamamatsu.
Match Centres for Thursday, 4 October:
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