Italy are still in contention for a ticket to the 2018 FIVB Women's Volleyball Nations League finals, after they beat the Netherlands in Week 4 - though they still need to overtake the Dutch on the home straight.
Lausanne, Switzerland, June 7, 2018 - With USA now mathematically qualified (and China directly through as hosts), there's still four open berths for the Final Six of the 2018 FIVB Women's Volleyball Nations League at the conclusion of Week 4 - the penultimate in pool play.
But this is the theory, because Brazil (currently at 10-2, 28 points), Serbia (9-3, 28 points) and Turkey (9-3, 28 points) need just one win in their remaining three matches next week to secure their tickets. And in the case of Brazil it could even be three defeats all in five sets.
Which means it's practically down to the Netherlands (9-3, 26 points) bringing in two wins to make sure Italy (7-5, 21 points) cannot overtake them. (Russia also still have a theoretical shot at Nanjing, but going into Week 5 at 6-6 and 18 points it's a humongous ask.)
Week 4 saw USA extend their incredible run to nine wins in a row and 11 in total, which sees the reigning world champions safely through to the VNL finals in Nanjing, 27 June to 1 July. There was also the rise of Italy, who registered three wins to get very much into the race for Nanjing. And the Dutch wrapped it all up quite excitingly as they came back from two sets down against Serbia to stay very much in the race for Nanjing.
These are the highlights of Week 4:
• USA's continuing winning run with victories over Russia, Brazil and China in Jiangmen.
• USA's 9-0 run from 16-20 to 25-20 to take the third set from China and bring the game home in straight sets.
• The unbelievable 22-20 tiebreak that sealed Japan's epic comeback against Thailand.
• Italy's three wins over Serbia, Netherlands and the Dominican Republic in Rotterdam.
• The Netherlands' 20-18 tiebreak over Serbia, after coming back from two sets down.
• Tijana Boskovic's 35 points for Serbia against the Netherlands - though it failed to give her team the win.
• Zhu Ting's 34 points for China against Brazil that also failed to secure a win for the Asian side.
• Tandara Caixeta's 30 points for Brazil against Russia.
• The tournament-high blocking performances of nine stuffs in a single match by Poland's Agnieszka Kakolewska against Germany and Brazil's Adenizia 'Ade' da Silva against Russia.
Quick links: FIVB Volleyball Nations League