Serbia, Italy set up first ever all-European World Championship final

 

Paola Egonu attacks against China in Yokohama for her all-time high 45 points that helped Italy make the final of the 2018 FIVB World Championship.

Lausanne, Switzerland, October 19, 2018 - Serbia outshone the Netherlands and Italy stunned China after phenomenal fourth and fifth sets in Friday's semifinals to set up a historic all-European final at the 2018 FIVB Volleyball Women's World Championship in Yokohama, as Paola Egonu smashes the all-time scoring record in the competition.

2018 FIVB Women's World Championship medals matches:
Bronze medal: Netherlands v China
Final: Serbia v Italy

This is Serbia's first ever World Championship final (after missing out in 2006 when they had to settle for bronze).

Italy's sole previous appearance in a World Championship was in 2002 when they won the title.

It is the first time since the introduction of finals in the World Championships, in 1978, that the FIVB's flagship tournament features two European sides in the gold medal match.

The only two times that European teams finished 1-2 in the World Championships was in the first two editions of the competition, with USSR and Poland in 1952 in Moscow and USSR and Romania in 1956 in Paris.


Italy captain Cristina Chirichella tries to push the ball past the China block, as the Europeans triumph in Friday's 2018 FIVB World Championship semifinal in Yokohma.

It took a succesful in/out challenge on China's fifth match point in an amazing fourth set for the Rio 2016 champions to force the game into a tie-break. Italy had missed their chances at finishing the match in four when they blew a 22-20 lead and then had match points at 25-24 and 26-25 cancelled by the Chinese.

And then Italy brought it home the long way round in the fifth, after blowing a 14-12 lead before Egonu secured their fifth match point with her personal 45th - an amazing historical all-time high.


Serbia ecstatic after win over the Netherlands that sees the Balkan side through to the final of the 2018 FIVB World Championship in Japan.

Previously in Yokohama, Tijana Boskovic once again led the scoring as Serbia held Dutch attacking efficiency in the 30s and overall dominated on the net in their thrilling four-set win.

Defending champions USA claimed fifth place in the final ranking after defeating hosts Japan in four sets in a playoff to wrap up the day in Yokohama, with Kim Hill scoring a match-high 25 points.


Contrasting emotions in Yokohama at the end of the incredible semifinal, as Italy celebrate in a huddle and despondent China look on dazed.

Match Centres:
Serbia - Netherlands 3-1
China - Italy 2-3
Japan - USA 1-3

Other Friday highlights:
• Egonu's all-time high scoring in a single World Championship match of 45 points against China beats the previous best of 40 points by Yelena Pavlova in Kazakhstan's 3-2 defeat to USA in 2006.
• The 19-year-old opposite is now practically assured to finish top scorer at this World Championship, after opening up a 30-point lead over the Netherlands' Lonneke Sloetjes, 291 to 261 with just one match for each remaining.
• At 222 total points the Italy v China game is the highest-scoring of this World Championship. It beats the previous high of 221 from the Germany v Brazil (3-2) game in Round 2. The all-time high remains 235 points from the 2010 semifinal between Brazil and Japan (3-2).


Serbia top scorer Tijana Boskovic and libero Silvija Popovic show their emotions as Serbia advance to their first ever World Championship final.

Italy will now be going for their second title, after their success in 2002 when they beat USA 3-2 in the final. Serbia will be aiming at their first ever title when the two teams clash on Saturday.

Match Centres for Saturday:
Netherlands v China, bronze medal match at 17:20 (08:20 GMT) in Yokohama
Serbia v Italy, final at 19:40 (10:40 GMT) in Yokohama

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