Lausanne, Switzerland, January 8 2020 – Bulgaria outplayed European champions Serbia to register their third win in as many matches in the CEV continental Olympic qualification tournament in Berlin and progress to Thursday’s semifinal against hosts Germany. France finished second in Pool B to meet Pool A winners Slovenia for a spot in Friday’s final.
Qatar delivered a sensational straight-set upset of Australia to become the first team with a secure spot in the semifinals of Asia’s continental Olympic qualification tournament in Jiangmen. Iran and hosts China followed suit and remained unbeaten in the other pool, with Wednesday’s victories over Kazakhstan and Chinese Taipei, respectively.
Bulgaria just needed to win two sets in their last match in Pool B against Serbia in order to make the semis. They did so on the way to a 3-2 (25-21, 24-26, 25-22, 20-25, 15-13) victory to top the standings undefeated and practically knock the 2019 EuroVolley gold medallists out of contention. Opposite Tsvetan Sokolov played only in the first three sets, but scored as many as 20 points, enough to top the charts of the match. Then France had to make sure they finish pool runners-up by winning at least one set in the last match, against the Netherlands, and so they did. They took the first two before coach Laurent Tillie changed his entire starting line-up, which allowed the Dutch to claim their first (and last) win of the tournament – 3-2 (21-25, 20-25, 25-22, 25-19, 15-11). Their opposite Nimir Abdel-Aziz skipped the last three sets, but the 16 points he made in the first two placed him on top of the scorers’ chart.
In Pool A’s last match, Slovenia claimed a 3-1 (25-12, 28-26, 19-25, 28-26) win over Czech Republic to top the standings undefeated, leaving hosts Germany in second place. Czech Republic’s Patrik Indra was the best scorer of the game with 19 points to his name. Jan Kozamernik scored 15 times for the winners.
Tunisia mastered a straight-set win over Cameroon, their second of the tournament in Cairo, after Tuesday’s victory over Ghana by forfeit. Coach Antonio Giaccobe’s squad managed a 3-0 (25-20, 25-20, 25-18) clean slate on the wings of 19 points by top scorer Elyes Karamosli. Yvan Arthur Kody Bitjaa was Cameroon's most prolific player with 17 points to his name.
Geraldo Graciano Da Silva Filho (14 points), Ibrahim Ibrahim (13) and Belal Nabel Abunabot (12) were the three players that reached the double digits in Qatar’s 3-0 (25-15, 25-21, 25-23) shutout of the Volleyroos in Pool B. This was the second straight-set victory for coach Camilo Soto’s squad and they can no longer drop below the cut-off for the semis. Korea got on the winning track with a 3-0 (25-19, 25-20, 25-23) victory over India to leave the opponents out of contention. Jiseok Jung contributed 12 points to his team’s success, while India’s Amit Amit topped the charts on 13. The last spot in the semifinals will be decided on Thursday between Korea (facing Qatar) and Australia (playing against India).
In Pool A, Iran recorded their second straight-set victory, a 3-0 (28-26, 25-16, 25-18) shutout of Kazakhstan. Morteza Sharifi impressed with five aces towards a match high total of 19 points for the winning side. Maxim Michshenko did even better from the serving line, hammering six direct points for Kazakhstan. Twice in a match that lasted well beyond two hours, China had to come back from a set down to finally emerge with a 3-2 (15-25, 25-16, 23-25, 25-22, 15-9) victory over Chinese Taipei. Chuan Jiang contributed 28 points to the win, while Ming-Chun Wang led Chinese Taipei’s scorers with 21 points, including three aces, to his name. Each on a 2-0 win-loss record, Iran and China will meet for the pool’s top on Thursday, but both are sure to advance to the semis.