Three down, one to go for VNL semis as Russia, USA, Brazil advance


Brazil set up a triple block with Wallace, Lucas and Douglas to stop Serbia's Marko Ivovic in the sweep that earned the reigning Olympic champions a berth in the semifinals of the 2018 FIVB Volleyball Nations League in Lille.

Lille, France, July 5, 2018 - With a day to spare in the first phase of the finals, Russia, USA and Brazil have all advanced to the semifinals of the 2018 FIVB Volleyball Nations League - leaving France and Serbia to battle it out on the last day of pool play, Friday, for the last remaining berth. Friday's results will also determine the order the qualified teams finish in their pools, to set up the semifinals pairings.

Brazil produced a phenomenal and passionate performance on Thursday evening. With their back against the wall after losing in five sets to hosts France on the opening day, the Rio 2016 Olympic champions delivered against Serbia, shutting out the Balkan side to secure their ticket for the last four.

It's now Serbia who are with their backs to the wall, needing a win for full points against France on Friday to send the hosts crashing out of the competition and join Brazil from Pool A in the semifinals.

USA triple block by Benjamin Patch, David Smith and Matt Anderson goes up to try and stop Poland's Damian Schulz, Thursday at the 2018 FIVB Volleyball Nations League final in Lille.

USA, meanwhile, delivered a strong message of their ambitions in this VNL in their 3-0 sweep of Poland on Thursday in this northern France city. That sent the reigning world champions crashing out of the VNL and saw USA through to the semifinals. It also allowed Russia through, without the reigning European champions having to set foot on the court. In fact, Russia claimed their ticket already after USA clinched the second set from Poland.

First place in Pool B will now be decided on Friday in the USA v Russia clash.

Lucas ties VNL blocking record
Lucas Saatkamp's tournament-high seven stuffs on Thursday against Serbia was one the day's highlights. The 32-year-old middle blocker registered seven blocks in just three sets, tying the standing VNL record jointly held by Iran's Saman Faezi (against China on June 8 in Ufa), China's Liu Libin (against Australia on June 16 in Seoul) and France's Kevin Le Roux (against Brazil on June 16 in Varna).

Lucas, who only got in one block on Wednesday night against France, improved his average per set in this final round of the VNL to 1.00 per set, on a par with Russia's Egor Kliuka, who still has a match to play in the finals' pools.

Brazil's Wallace goes one-on-one with Serbia's Nikola Jovovic Thursday at the 2018 FIVB Volleyball Nations League final in Lille.

Meanwhile, Brazil's Wallace De Souza has contributed 38 points to Brazil's tally after two games in the Final Six, bringing his overall total in the VNL to 253. The 31-year-old opposite is now just 20 points shy of the 273 of leading scorer of the competition, China's Jiang Chuan.

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