Russia claim ticket to Japan 2018
Russia qualify to the 2018 FIVB World Championship.
Earlier on Saturday Azerbaijan had also qualified to Japan 2018, after Serbia had secured their own ticket last week.
It will be Russia's (including as USSR) 17th appearance in 18 editions of the FIVB's premier event, having missed only 1967.
Turkey, meanwhile, remained undefeated in Sofia Saturday, but pool hosts Bulgaria took them all the way for five sets, so they still need to win their last match on Sunday against Montenegro.
And Germany need just two sets against winless France on Sunday to close Pool E at Viana do Castelo at the top of the table.
The other remaining pool, in Kortrijk, is still wide open, to be decided between Italy and hosts Belgium on Sunday.
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Russia claim ticket to Japan 2018
Powered by Nataliya Goncharova who scored 19 points and Tatiana Kosheleva who added 13, plus six stuffs and three aces from Irina Zaryazhko, Russia thundered past Hungary 3-0 (25-11, 25-21, 25-7) to secure their ticket to Japan 2018, regardless of what happens in their last match on Sunday against Croatia.
Greece, who swept Georgia 3-0 (25-13, 25-13, 25-14), are even closer now to second place in the pool and a spot in Round 3 of the European qualifiers, after pool hosts Croatia stunned Austria 3-1 (23-25, 26-24, 25-20, 25-16).
Turkey survive Bulgaria to place on foot in Japan 2018
Turkey pulled together in the tie-break to edge pool hosts Bulgaria 3-2 (23-25, 25-23, 25-23, 13-25, 15-13) in a very tight match and remain undefeatd in Pool C in Sofia, but still need a last win in their closing match to clinch the deal.
Bulgaria can still hope, but it's out of their hands now.
Turkey's Eda Erdem strikes opposite the Bulgarian block of Dobriana Rabadzhieva and Nasya Dimitrova in Sofia.
The hosts applied pressure from the service line, but Turkey were more decisive in the crucial moments of the game as Neriman Ozsoy and Meryem Boz (who came on as a sub in the first set for Seda Aslanyurek) scored 15 points each. Eda Erdem added 14 and Gozde Kirdar 13 for Turkey.
Elitsa Vasileva with 24 points, Emiliya Nikolova with 21 and Hristina Ruseva with 17 for Bulgaria were the highest scorers of the game.
Switzerland beat Montenegro 3-0 (25-22, 25-16, 25-17) and Rumania swept Kosovo 3-0 (25-12, 25-12, 25-13) in the other matches of the day in Sofia.
Italy and Belgium clash for ticket to Japan 2018
Italy and pool hosts Belgium both remained undefeated in Pool D at Kortrijk and will decide who qualifies to the World Championship when they clash on Sunday - with the loser guaranteed a place in Round 3 of the European qualifiers.
Italy beat Spain 3-0 (25-17, 25-18, 25-15) led by Lucia Bosetti who scored 16 points on a 65% kill ratio (13/20) and outblocking their opponents 12 stuffs to 2.
Italy's Paola Egonu strikes above the Spanish block of Jessica Rivero and Annna Mirtha Correa in Kortrijk.
Belgium struggled a bit but followed suit with a 3-0 (25-19, 30-28, 25-16) win over Bosnia & Herzegovina with Britt Herbots and Kaja Grobelna each scoring 14 points.
Belarus beat Latvia 3-0 (25-19, 25-20, 25-16) in the other match of the day in Kortrijk.
Germany close in on World Championship
Germany gave Finland no chance in Pool F at Viana do Castelo and remained undefeated with a 3-0 (25-23, 25-23, 25-14) sweep that sees them inch forward in their quest for Japan 2018.
Louisa Lippmann scored 17 points for Germany, who dominated on the net with eight stuffs to four and 46/112 kills (46%) to 36/103 (35%).
Slovenia beat hosts Portugal 3-0 (25-18, 25-19, 25-22) and secured at least a second chance through Round 3 of the European qualifiers.
The top team from each pool advances directly to the 2018 FIVB Women's World Championship in Japan. The second-ranked team of each pool continues in Round 3 of the European qualifiers for two more tickets to Japan 2018.
Serbia, Azerbajan and Russia join Japan as hosts and USA as defending champions as the five sides already qualified to the 24-team 2018 World Championship.
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