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Turkey, Italy, Germany through to World Championship

 
Lausanne, Switzerland, June 4, 2017 - Turkey, Italy and Germany all qualified to the 2018 FIVB Women's World Championship Sunday, as Round 2 of the European qualifiers wound down across the continent after two weeks of amazing, nail-biting action.

They all join Serbia, Azerbaijan and Russia who had qualified earlier from Europe, plus hosts Japan and defending champions USA who had gained direct access to the 2018 FIVB World Championship.



Another two places for Europe in Japan 2018 will be determined in the 3rd of the continental qualifiers, 22-27 August. Greece, Bulgaria, Belgium, The Netherlands and Slovenia, plus the Czech Republic from last week, will play in a single round-robin with the top two advancing to the 2018 World Championship.

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Greece make Round 3
Greece came from behind in the fourth set with a 7-0 run at the very end to avoid a tie-break and beat Austria 3-1 (20-25, 25-19, 25-22, 25-23). This secured Greece second place in the pool standings in Osijek and a berth in Round 3 of the European qualifiers.

Anthi Vasilantonaki as usual provided the firepower for Greece with 22 points and Evangelia Merteki added another 13.


Greece's Eva Chantava and Gina Lambrousi block Austria's Katharina Holzer in Osijek.

Having already secured their direct ticket to Japan 2018 with a day to spare and with Croatia out of contention for second place after Greece's win, Russia beat the pool hosts 3-1 (25-22, 25-21, 20-25, 25-15) to finish the tournament undefeated.

Tatiana Kosheleva, who came on off the bench in the first set, scored 14 points, with Mariia Frolova adding 13 and Ekaterina Efimova 12 (including 6 blocks) for Russia. Samanta Fabris was top scorer of the game with 23 for Croatia.

Hungary beat Georgia 3-0 (25-12, 25-8, 25-21) in the other match of the day in Osijek.

Turkey complete the task
Turkey quikly got the job done in Sofia, sweeping Montenegro 3-0 (25-16, 25-13, 25-19) and punching their ticket to Japan 2018, which they had practicaally secured the previous evening when they edged hosts Bulgaria in five nerve-wracking sets.

Despite needing the win to secure the ticket to Japan, coach Giovanni Guidetti felt confident enough as the match progressed to bring on every single one of his players. Meryem Boz, the only one to play in all three sets, was eventually Turkey's best scorer with 10 points in the very one-side game.

Turkey have now never missed a World Championship since first qualifying for the FIVB flagship tournament in 2006. They registered their best finish in 2010 with 6th place.

Bulgaria, who had secured second place in the pool with the point they picked up against Turkey on Saturday, finshed with a 3-0 (25-8, 25-13, 25-10) sweep of winless Kosovo and Romania beat Switzerland 3-1 (21-25, 25-19, 25-16, 25-21) in the other matches of the day.


Bulgaria celebrate win over Kosovo and second place in the Sofia pool.

Italy edge Belgium for World Championship berth
Italy silenced the 2,500-strong sellout crowd at Kortrijk with a solid and convincing but hard-earned 3-0 (25-18, 25-22, 25-23) win over pool hosts Belgium.

Italy, the 2002 world champions, have not missed a single edition of the competition since their first appearance in 1978.

Trailing 18-21 in the second set and with setter Ofelia Malinov piling on the pressure from the service line, Italy made a 6-0 run to reach set point at 24-21 before Paola Egonu brought it home with a cross-court kill from the outside.

And at 22-22 in the third, a service error from Britt Herbots followed by a kill from Egonu brought Italy to match point. Belgium pulled one back, but Cristina Chirichella got the final block that sent Italy to Japan.


Paola Egonu strikes over the block of Britt Herbots and Laura Heyrman as she leads Italy to triumph over Belgium in Kortrijk.

Egonu had a kill rate of 47% (18/38) and scored 23 points to lead Italy, who were just that little bit better on the net.

With both sides undefeated at the start of the game, the loser was guaranteed a spot in the 3rd Round of the European playoffs, so Belgium will be getting another chance at a second straight and fourth overall World Championship appearance.

Spain beat Latvia 3-0 (25-8, 25-16, 25-19) and Belarus edged Bosnia & Herzegovina 3-2 (25-17, 27-25, 18-25, 25-27, 15-7) in the other matches at Kortrijk.

Germany get ticket to Japan 2018
Germany got the two sets they needed over winless France in Viano do Castelo before coach Felix Koslowski switched half his team for the third. Eventually Germany beat France 3-1 (25-22, 25-21, 22-25, 25-17) to finish the week undefeated, powered by 11 points from Louisa Lippmann who only played in the first two sets and 10 from Dora Grozer who came on in the third.

Germany have competed in all FIVB World Championship since reunification with their best showing a 5th place in 1994. As East Germany they finished twice fourth in 1974 and 1986.

Slovenia had earlier secured a berth in Round 3 of the European qualifiers after Imza Mlakar scored 20 points with a 52% (17/33) kill ratio to lead her side to a 3-0 (25-16, 25-21, 26-24) over Finland.

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