With its ticket to France for the Final Six already in hand, the United States decided to rest most of its starting lineup, opting to give a young roster of a players a shot and fell to Russia 3-0 in a close match.
Dmitry Muserskiy came off the bench to rack up 12 points and lead Russia in a sweep of Italy to grab a spot in the VNL Final Six.
With the top three teams in the VNL standings plus seventh place Italy in Pool 20, it could be considered the group of death in terms of toughness. The Russians and Americans are just mere points away from the Final Six, while Italy will rely on home court advantage to push through.
Thirty-four errors plagued Germany in its five-set loss to Japan on Friday, nullifying the team’s advantages in kills and blocks. Argentina boasted a slight edge in kills and aces, but could not get out of its own way in the match, committing 24 errors in a 3-0 loss to Russia.
Germany will look to play giant killer again as they host Pool 14 with Russia, Japan and Argentina.
Brazil put down 21 more kills in the match, including 15 by Wallace DeSouza in a rout of China on Sunday to stay atop the VNL standings. Russia picked up its second straight home victory, besting Iran in every scoring category, while Dmitriy Muserskiy scored a match-high 24 points.
Thirteen blocks were not enough to lift Iran past a Brazilian side, which leaned on Douglas Souza and Wallace DeSouza in a five-set affair on Saturday. Meanwhile, Anton Karpukhov did it all for Russia, posting a match-high 21 points with 15 kills, four blocks and two aces, in a sweep of China.
Chuang Jiang is the leading scorer in the Volleyball Nations League. He will try to lead China against Russia, Brazil and Iran in Ufa, Russia from June 8-10.
Drazen Luburic racked up 29 points, including 28 kills, and Serbia capitalized on 32 Russian miscues for its second straight five-set win. Australia broke into the win column, scoring a slight upset over 14th-ranked Bulgaria, winning via sweep of the home team on Saturday.
Russia took advantage of 36 Australian errors and boasted an 11-4 lead in blocks in a four-set win on Friday. Forty Bulgarian errors helped fuel Serbia in a five-set comeback victory.