Serbia Clinches Spot in Final Six with Sweep of Russia

  0 Derek Johnson | July 21st, 2017 | Asian Volleyball, European volleyball, FIVB World Grand Prix, International Volleyball


  • Group 1
  • July 21-23, 2017
  • FIVB World Grand Prix, Week 3
  • Hong Kong, China
  • Pool G1
  • Schedule/Results

Pool G1 started week three with a trio of teams in the top six. With all of the carnage this weekend could produce, it could be difficult to end that way, as already seen by China’s defeat of Japan. That result moved Japan outside of the top six while it kept China in good positioning.

In the other match, Serbia swept another opponent as they remain the only one-loss team in the tournament. The loss doesn’t completely eliminate Russia, but it makes it extremely unlikely that they can make the final six.

Pool G1 Standings:

1 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 3 3 0 MAX 76 57 1.333
1 1 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 3 3 1 3.000 108 95 1.136
1 0 1 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 1 3 0.333 95 108 0.879
1 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 3 0.000 57 76 0.750

SERBIA DEF. RUSSIA 3-0 (26-24, 25-14, 25-19)

Although the first set went to extra points, the rest of the match wouldn’t be nearly as close, as Serbia swept Russia to secure a final six berth.

The Russian side kept the first set close behind Ekaterina Efimova, who led Russia with 10 points and eight kills (on 14 swings). However, Serbia dominated the match with 15 more kills, five more blocks and one more ace. Not only were they more aggressive, but they only had two more errors as they would squeak out the first, dominate the second set and win the third 25-19.

The lack of errors was prevalent in the individual play of some of Serbia’s top point-getters. Their top four in kills racked up 41 of them on just 73 swings. Brankica Mihajlovic led the team in kills (14), while Milena Rasic led Serbia in points (18) as she had six blocks and three aces to go with her nine kills (on 12 swings).

“Having a match with Russia is always a special game to us,” Serbian head coach Zoran Terzić said to FIVB after the win. “Around 60% of our score comes from our attacks in the first match. We then focus more on the defense and it is easier in the second match. I am glad that we are one of the final six teams and we still have lots to improve in the future.”

Serbia is the first team to clinch a spot in the final six. The victory pushes their record to 6-1, and with 18 points, no team who is residing outside of the top six could usurp them. Beyond that, they’re currently the only team with one or fewer losses in the event. They’ll look to keep the positive momentum going tomorrow against Japan.

After starting 0-3, Russia did a solid job of recouping for a 2-1 record last weekend. However, the early hole they got in put Russia in a situation where they’d likely need to go 3-0 this week. Two more wins could still hypothetically keep them alive, but it would also take several scenarios to go their way, giving them an unrealistic chance of still making the final six. Regardless, tomorrow’s match against China will be a must-win.

CHINA DEF. JAPAN 3-1 (25-19, 25-20, 33-35, 25-21)

In a match that featured two of the top-six teams heading into the start of week three, it was China who came out on top 3-1. The home-crowd helped fuel China to win the Asian derby, as they overcame four more Japanese kills and two more aces with a strong block that doubled up Japan’s total (16-8).

The Chinese side grabbed control of the match early by winning the first two sets by six and five, respectively. Although Japan won the third, it took so much effort as it finalized at 35-33, that they may have run out of energy in the fourth, when China ended the match, 25-21. Part of the early start for China could have to deal with Zhu Ting‘s start in the match, as the Chinese captain was playing off-and-on early in the tournament due to fatigue from her club schedule. She started and played in every set in last week’s win over the United States to end the week, and did the same in this one as she netted a match-best 31 points (26 kills on 53 swings, four blocks and one ace).

Japan had a balanced attack, with four players at 14 or more points. Haruyo Shimamura led the way with 21 points on 17 kills (30 swings), three blocks and an ace. But even with the balance, they were thwarted by 11 more team errors. On top of that was the block, which propelled China to the four-set win.

China’s victory gives them a 5-2 record overall in Group 1, and puts them in final six territory. There are three teams on their tale though who have four wins, so they still need to be on the right side of a result with Russia tomorrow and possibly even with Serbia to end pool play.

Things get more difficult from here for Japan. Beyond slipping to 4-3, they have the least amount of points of the four-win teams. On top of it all, they take on Group 1’s top team so far in Serbia tomorrow. It could be a must-win for Japan as they need to make a stand with just two matches left before the final six.

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