World League – June 18: Russia, Canada and USA advance to Final Six with crucial victories
The United States reached the 2017 FIVB Volleyball World League Final Six after they made a crucial victory over Poland in Lodz
Brazil will host European squads France and Serbia, which earlier qualified in the Final Six, together with Russia, Canada and USA in Curitiba from July 4 to 8.
Belgium, Poland, Russia, Bulgaria and Canada carried identical 4-4 win-loss cards, while USA had a 3-5 win-loss record prior to their matches on Sunday. Russia, Canada and the USA had one match each to define their destiny and they productively did so as they earned victories, which gave them vital points to climb the Group1 ranking.
Russia rushed to a straight-set win over Iran in Lodz, to record a 5-4 card and earn three points to improve their points total to 14, putting them in fourth spot in Group 1. Canada also improved their win-loss record to 5-4 and earned three points in their four-set win over Italy to gain the fifth spot.
USA kept their pursuit of the title as they sneaked into Final Six after they defeated hosts Poland in four sets. After struggling start in the tournament, USA managed to earn victories that facilitated their jump from ninth to sixth place in the ranking.
Belgium lost their grip after their straight-set loss to 2015 World League winners France in Antwerp. The latter sit as the top team with eight wins and one loss in the in the preliminary round.
Argentina ended Bulgaria’s Final Six hopes when they fulfilled a 3-1 triumph on home soil. Bulgaria suffered from turnovers, which allowed Argentina to execute their plays well.
Brazil completed the list of winners in Group 1 with a four-set win over defending champions Serbia.
Meanwhile, Japan made it to the final four despite their 3-2 loss to China in Kunshan. The Japanese edged the Chinese in the tight race with a slim one-point margin, coming from their five-set encounter. Japan will join Slovenia, the Netherlands and host Australia in the Group 2 Final Four competition in Gold Coast from June 24 to 25.
In Group 3, Estonia captured the Group 3 title on their debut with victories over Spain in straight sets. Germany settled for third in the group after their straight-set win over Mexico in Leon.
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Group 1 competition will resume with the Final Six in Curitiba, Brazil, from July 4 to 8.
Japan earned the qualification ticket to the Final Four in Gold Coast in spite of their loss to their Asian rivals China in Kunshan. The home team posted a victory in the tie-breaker, which gave away one point to their rivals. Both teams had the same win-loss cards, but the one point from the tie-breaker set was enough to put Japan ahead of China in the ranking.
In the other match in Kunshan, Australia formalised their preliminary round campaign with a 3-1 win over Turkey and head into their home base for the Group 2 Final Four with a 6-3 win-loss card.
Slovenia likewise will move to Gold Coast after they topped the Group 2 preliminary round. Slovenia swept the matches in Cairo, following their four-set victory over Portugal; while hosts Egypt finished last with their 3-1 loss to Finland.
The Netherlands beat their European counterparts Czech Republic to improve their win-record further to seven in nine matches. The Dutch squad will also be a tough team to beat when the Final Four in Gold Coast starts on June 24. In the other match at The Hague, Korea defeated Slovakia in a thrilling five-setter. Korea has played five tie-break matches in the tournament and have been successful in four occasions. Their only tie-break loss came against Slovakia in Takasaki.
Group 2 Final Four will be held in Gold Coast, Australia from June 24 to 25.
In Leon, Estonia made a statement as they have won the Group 3 final in their World League debut. Last year, Slovenia won over Germany 3-1 in Group 3 on their World League debut. For the second consecutive year, two European teams have contested the Group 3 final. Estonia overpowered Spain in straight sets (25-22, 25-16, 25-21) to win in Group 3.
Germany secured the third spot in Group 3, following their straight-set (25-19, 25-19, 26-24) win over hosts Mexico.
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