Poland one set away from punching ticket to Tokyo 2020
Luxembourg, August 10, 2019. Poland took a huge step towards a ticket to the men’s Volleyball tournament of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games Saturday afternoon in Gdansk when they shut out France 3-0 (25-21, 25-19, 25-20) in the deciding match of their pool, though all six Olympic tickets available this weekend remain unclaimed, ahead of Sunday’s closing day of the qualifiers.
Wilfredo Leon, in only his second official game for Poland, led the home side in their sweep of France in Gdansk, scoring a match-high 17 points as the hosts put up an impenetrable block that earned them 12 points (to France’s 5). Poland now need just one set on Sunday against Slovenia to celebrate their qualification to Tokyo 2020. Only if Slovenia beat Poland in straight sets can they (or France) hope for first place in the pool on a potential better set or point ratio.
Toncek Stern led Slovenia with 19 points and a 62% (18/29) attacking efficiency as they came from behind in the third set to shut out Tunisia 3-0 (25-23, 25-16, 26-24) in the other match of the day in Gdansk, leaving the Africans winless.
In Ningbo, Argentina are now just two sets away from a berth in Tokyo 2020, after their 3-1 (25-17, 18-25, 25-21, 26-24) win over Finland and in combination with China’s defeat to Canada 3-2 (24-26, 25-21, 25-17, 23-25, 17-15). China s loss means that the hosts now need a win for full points against Argentina on Sunday to advance, while the South Americans will be happy with just two sets. Canada are already out of contention after dropping a point.
Argentina were led by Bruno Lima who scored 13 points and Cristian Poglajen who added 11 more, though the match high belonged to Samuli Kaislasalo who scored 22 for Finland. The Finns never got a clear shot at forcing a tie-break - all they could do is just cancel a match point at 24-23 before Facundo Conte came to the rescue with an attack that sealed the game.
Russia v Iran for one ticket to Tokyo
In Saint Petersburg Russia and Iran go head-to-head on Sunday with the winner getting the coveted ticket to next year’s Olympic Games from their pool, after both remained undefeated with clear wins on Saturday. Iran beat Mexico 3-0 (25-18, 25-21, 27-25) and Russia had to concentrate on the crucial moments of the game, as they outplayed Cuba 3-0 (25-18, 26-24, 27-25). The hosts missed their first chance to finish the second set, but on their second try Ivan Iakovlev served an ace on Yohan Leon for the last point. The hosts were 22-17 ahead in the third set before Cuba closed in and even reached set point first with an ace by sub Leon (one of his total four in the game) on Victor Poletaev, but Russia rallied to finish the match in three. Dmitry Volkov and Jesus Herrera were joint top scorers of the game on 15 points each.
Dutch challenge Americans for Olympic spot
It is a similar story in Rotterdam, after both USA and the Netherlands remained undefeated on Saturday and will have to sort it out between themselves on Sunday to determine which of the two advances to Tokyo 2020. The Netherlands swept neighbour rivals Belgium 3-0 (25-22, 25-21, 25-20) with Nimir Abdel-Aziz spearheading their attack on a 68% (19/28) efficiency and bagging a match-high 21 points. The hosts both out-blocked (10 to 2) and out-served (5 to 4) Belgium. A little later, USA cruised past Korea 3-0 (25-20, 25-21, 25-16) with Aaron Russell leading the way as the Americans totally outplayed their opponents across the board.
Brazil up against Bulgaria for one Olympic ticket
Defending Olympic champions Brazil are up against pool hosts Bulgaria Sunday in Varna in a clash to decide the one team to get a ticket to the Olympic Games. They both scored straight-set victories on Saturday to stay undefeated. Brazil downed Egypt 3-0 (25-12, 25-19, 25-14) with the triplet of Yoandy Leal, Mauricio Silva and Wallace de Souza bringing in 13, 12 and 11 points respectively, as the South Americans produced far more efficient attacking - 65% (46/71) to just 30% (21/71).
Bulgaria followed suit, pounding Puerto Rico from the service line for 12 aces that led to a 3-0 (25-20, 25-22, 25-12) sweep. Rozalin Penchev with 15 points, alongside Martin Atanasov (4 aces) and Tsvetan Sokolov (3 aces) on 12 apiece, led the scoring for Bulgaria.
Italy narrowly avoid disaster
Italy will fight for the ticket to Tokyo 2020 from the Bari pool, but only after surviving a massive scare in the hands of Australia before just scraping past the Volleyroos 3-2 (21-25, 25-19, 24-26, 25-17, 15-13) and staying undefeated in dramatic fashion. The two sides were neck-and-neck in the tie-break until 12-12, but a service error by Arshdeep Dosanjh followed by a block from Simone Giannelli on Samuel Walker allowed Italy to open a two-point gap. That proved enough for them to side-out on their first chance with Osmany Juantorena successfully attacking against the block of James Weir to save the day for the hosts.
Juantorena was Italy’s best scorer on 22 points, but Lincoln Alexander Williams was top scorer of the game with 27, as the Azzurri relied on their blocking to stay alive with a total of 18 stuffs - eight of those by Matteo Piano.
Previously in Bari, Drazen Luburic had scored 14 points to inspire a Serbia win over Cameroon 3-0 (25-22, 25-19, 25-13) that left the Balkan side also undefeated.
Information by cev.eu