Women's World Championship peaks as Round 3 begins
Tournament leading scorer Paola Egonu (18) will continue to lead Italy, the only side still undefeated at the start of Round 3 of the 2018 FIVB World Championship in Japan.
• Pool G: Italy, Serbia, Japan
• Pool H: Netherlands, USA, China
There's a couple of huge volleyball world powerhouses missing from this Final Six, after record seven-time world champions Russia (including as Soviet Union) crashed out of the tournament for their lowest final ranking ever in the history of the competition.
And for two-time Olympic gold medallists Brazil, who were also knocked out after Round 2, it means another four years to wait before they can get another shot at the only major title that still eludes them.
But for the remaining six, this is the moment of truth.
Italy are the only undefeated side after nine matches of pool play in Rounds 1 and 2. But they are up against Rio 2016 Olympic silver medallists Serbia, who may have suffered two defeats in their last two matches - but these came only after they had already secured their spot in the top six.
Japan, who claimed a last-minute passage to the top six after taking the first set from Brazil in the very last match of pool play on Thursday, have already improved on their previous performance of four years ago when they ranked 7th.
Lonneke Sloetjes and her Dutch teammates head Pool G as they continue to dominate the 2018 FIVB World Championship, heading into Round 3.
Heading the other Round 3 pool are three of the four top teams from the Rio 2016 Olympic Games: gold medallists China, bronze medallists USA and fourth-ranked Netherlands. Defending world champions USA and China had also met in the 2014 World Championship final in Milan.
Quick links - Volleyball:
FIVB Volleyball Women's World Championship Japan 2018
Results and ranking
16/10/2018Semifinals set at Women's World Championship
16/10/2018Zhu leads China to 3-1 victory over the Netherlands
16/10/2018Boskovic powers Serbia past Italy in 3-1 victory at Women's World Championship
15/10/2018FIVB signs four-year agreement with new global sponsor Ganten
15/10/2018Netherlands, China, Serbia, Italy confirmed semifinalists at World Championship
15/10/2018Egonu sparks Italy past Japan in five-set thriller
15/10/2018Sloetjes puts on show as Netherlands charge back to beat USA 3-2
14/10/2018Serbia, China take first step towards World Championship semifinals