Bulgarians, Dominicans, Puerto Ricans, Mexicans make final cut for second round


Middle blocker Nasya Dimitrova was one of the top scorers for Bulgaria in the crucial win over Canada

Lausanne, Switzerland, October 4, 2018 – The last four participants in the second round of the FIVB Volleyball Women’s World Championship in Japan became known on Thursday, as Bulgaria, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico and Mexico finished among the top four in their respective pool standings to stay alive in the competition.

In the most anticipated match of the day, where Bulgaria and Canada had to battle it out face to face for the last remaining Pool B spot, the European squad celebrated with a four-set victory after coming back from a set down. It was a very even fight, with both sides desperately seeking the way to the victory, but it was Bulgaria’s better offensive effort, as well as coach Ivan Petkov’s well-timed substitution and time-out decisions, that made the difference in favour of the Balkan Lionesses.

In Pool D, the Dominican Republic practically qualified for the second round as soon as one of their rivals, Puerto Rico lost in straight sets to Serbia in the early match in Hamamatsu, but then “returned the favour” to their Caribbean neighbours by shutting out and eliminating the third contestant, Kenya, out of the equation. With Yonkaira Paola Penya Isabel serving a smashing nine aces for a game-high total of 17 points, the Dominicans did so emphatically, by a tournament-high margin, allowing their African opponents to score only 27 points in the three sets combined.

While Serbia topped the final Pool D standings without dropping a single set along the way, the Dominican Republic, on a 3-2 record, made the cut as the third-placed team, and Puerto Rico, on 2-3, finished fourth.

In Pool A, Mexico failed to win a set in the early match of the day, as the Netherlands extended their winning streak to a perfect five-win count to top the group. While Juliet Lohuis hammered out five of her side’s 13 aces in this match, the Mexicans had to rely on the outcome of the next match in the program to guarantee them a safe passage to the next stage.

Argentina, winless until that game, took care of Mexico’s worries by shutting out Cameroon and leaving the African side out of contention, while putting a stop to a four-game losing spell of their own. Both Argentina and Cameroon, finishing fifth and sixth in the pool, respectively, are out of the World Championship, while fourth-placed Mexico will stay for the second round.

So, Pool E (in Nagoya) of the next stage will feature the teams of Brazil, the Dominican Republic, Germany, Japan, Mexico, the Netherlands, Puerto Rico and Serbia. The teams of Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, China, Italy, Russia, Thailand, Turkey and USA will compete in Pool F in Osaka. The second round will consist of four legs over the period from October 7 through 11.

Yonkaira Paola Penya Isabel smashed a fantastic nine aces for the Dominican Republic against Kenya

Other Thursday highlights:
• In a battle for the second place in Pool A (after the Netherlands), with well over 10 thousand cheering spectators on the stands, hosts Japan managed a straight-set victory, though two of the sets were extended into overtime by their hard-fighting German opponents. Japan’s Sarina Koga and Germany’s Louisa Lippmann shared the top scorer honours with 21 points each.
• Italy stayed unbeaten on top of Pool B, but slightly spoiled their perfect record by registering their first set loss since the start of the tournament. In the direct clash for the first place in the pool, Olympic champions China started well against Italy, but the European squad came back from a set down to win the next three, leaving the Asians in the runner-up position. A fantastic tally of 19 kill blocks helped the Italians along the way, while Paola Egonu again topped the scoring charts, this time with 29 points.
• 12 stuff blocks helped Turkey finish their campaign in Pool B on a high note and in third place with a 3-2 record, after coach Giovanni Guidetti’s squad defeated Cuba in four sets.
• A thrilling five-set saga unfolded in the last match in Pool C between undefeated powerhouses USA and Russia. The Russians won the first and the fourth sets, but the reigning world champions won the deciding fifth set to emerge on top of the final pool standings. The two teams tallied 28 stuff blocks combined, while Russia’s Nataliya Goncharova scored 36 points to take over the top of the World Championship best scorers ranking with a grand total of 119 points to her name so far.
• There was a face-to-face duel for the third place in the Pool C standings as well, with Thailand beating Azerbaijan in four sets to finish on a 3-2 record, leaving the Azeris on 2-3. Azerbaijan’s Polina Rahimova was on fire again, top-scoring 25 points towards a tournament total of 118, one short of Russia’s Goncharova.
• Brazil made sure they finish runners-up in Pool D, upping their win-loss record to 4-1 with a routine straight-setter against winless Kazakhstan. With this result, the Brazilians extended their impeccable head-to-head record against this opponent in major world-level competitions to 7-0, without ever losing a set.
• All 15 matches in Pool D ended in three sets.

Setter Ofelia Malinov orchestrated the Italian offence to a victory over Olympic champs China

Match Centres:

The best two scorers of the Russia v USA five-set thriller, Nataliya Goncharova and Kimberly Hill, against each other at the net


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