Old-timers and one rookie as 2018 World Championship takes shape
Libero Jani Kovacic in action in the European qualifiers, as he helps Slovenia advance to become the only debutant in the 2018 FIVB World Championship.
Two-time silver and two-time bronze medallists Cuba were on the brink of missing their first World Championship in 56 years (since 1962), but managed to squeeze past Mexico on point ratio at the very last minute.
They were joined by Puerto Rico as the last two teams to advance to the FIVB's flagship event which will be jointly hosted by Italy and Bulgaria 10-30 September 2018.
All the top favourites will be present next year in the World Championship, including past gold medallists, Russia (6 times, including as USSR), Brazil (3 times), Italy (3 times), Poland (2 times) and USA (once).
Probably the most noticeable absence will be that of Germany, who were bronze medallists last time around in 2014. They had been world champions as East Germany in 1970.
Otherwise, The Netherlands are back after a 16-year (since 2002) hiatus, while Slovenia will be the only debutantes in the 2018 World Championship.
Also amongst the qualified teams for 2018 are the most prolific sides in the history of the tournament, 1970 silver and four-time bronze medallists Bulgaria who will be making their 18th appearance (having missed only 1960), plus three-time world champions Italy (who missed out in 1952 and 1960) and Poland two-time gold medallists Poland (who were absent in 1990 and 1994). The last two will be competiting in a world championship for the 17th time.
Quick links - Volleyball:
FIVB Volleyball Men's World Championship 2018
FIVB Volleyball Women's World Championship 2018
FIVB.com - Volleyball
The 2018 FIVB Men's World Championship will be held across six Italian and three Bulgarian cities next September, with the top six teams converging on Turin for Round 3 and the medals.
The 24 entrants will start out in four pools of six, with the top four of each pool advancing to the next round.
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