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Two tickets unclaimed for Last 16 of Girls' U18 Worlds

 

Italy's Gaia Guiducci pushes the ball into the block of Canada's Kaylee Plouffe at the 2019 FIVB Girls' U18 World Championship in Egypt.

Ismailia, Egypt, September 8, 2019 - Fourteen teams have confirmed their spots in the Top 16 of the 2019 FIVB Girls' U18 World Championship with one day to spare in pool play in the Egyptian cities of Ismailia on the Suez Canal and the capital Cairo, after Sunday's results.

China, Brazil, Egypt, Puerto Rico, Italy, USA, Canada, Russia, Romania, Thailand, Japan, Peru, Bulgaria and Turkey have punched their tickets to the knockout stage of the competition.

Mexico can in theory overtake Korea on the closing day of pool play, Monday, for a spot in the Top 16, but they would have to beat defending champions Italy who are undefeated so far this year.

And Argentina are back in the game, though they too would need to beat Thailand and send Belarus crashing out.

China stay undefeated with sweep of Brazil
China emphatically cruised past Brazil 3-0 (25-13, 25-15, 25-23) to stay the only undefeated team of Pool A in Ismailia, although in the grand scheme of things it makes little difference, other than to determine who they meet in the knockout Round of 16.

Led by match top scorer Wu Mengjie on 19 points, China were more efficient in attacking with 47% (37/79) to just 27% (24/89), but also took advantage of the South Americans' 26 unforced errors.


Zhuang Yushan of China tries to beat the Brazil block of Julia Gambatto and Maria Clara Carvalhaes at Ismailia for the 2019 FIVB Girls' U18 World Championship.

But match of the day in Ismailia turned out to be the clash for the last remaining ticket to the knockout stage between Puerto Rico and Cameroon - both seeking their first win in the World Championship.

Cameroon seemed to be happily on their way to a sweep, having won the first set and coming from behind to take the second despite a serious injury in the right arm for Chantal Dang who had to be substituted by Jeanne D'arc Beni while trailing 20-18.

But the injury both shocked and disorganised the African side, allowing Puerto Rico to regroup and turn the match around for a 3-2 (19-25, 24-26, 25-11, 25-21, 15-9) win that sees the Caribbean side advance to the last 16 and leaves Cameroon to play out for positions 17-20.

Cameroon captain Ruth Bibinbe was top scorer of the game on 27 points (including three blocks and four aces), with Puerto Rico's Sofia Victoria just one behind on 26.


Puerto Rico captain Sofia Victoria gets stopped by the Cameroon block of Ruth Manuela Marie Bibinbe and Ivan Nancy Mbira at Ismailia at the 2019 FIVB Girls' U18 World Championship.

Defending champions stay unbeaten
Italy remained the only undefeated team in Pool B after defeating Canada 3-0 (25-20, 25-7, 25-19). It was Canada's first loss after a two-win run, but the North Americans are already assured of a spot in the knockout stage of the competition.

Led by Alessia Bolzonetti's 13 points Italy had few problems in dealing with Canada, who committed as many as 35 unforced errors in the three sets.


Italy's Adhuoljok Malual overcomes the block of Canada's Katarina Pantovic and Anna Smrek at the 2019 FIVB Girls' U18 World Championship in Ismailia.

Earlier in the morning in Ismailia, USA had beaten Korea 3-0 (25-11, 25-17, 25-13) advancing to a 2-1 record. That leaves Korea, who have concluded their pool play obligations on 1-3, but barring a huge upset by Mexico over Italy on Monday that should be enough to see the Asian side through to the Round of 16.

Emily Londot was the game's high scorer with 11 points - the only player on either side to go into double digits - as USA completely dominated play on the net with 13-1 blocks (five by Londot alone) and 43% (23/54) to a mere 19% (16/83) attacking efficiency.


USA's Caroline Crawford reaches high to beat the block of Korea's Choi Jeongmin at the 2019 FIVB Girls' U18 World Championship in Ismailia.

Argentina see glimmer of hope
Argentina are back with a chance of making the Top 16, after their nail-biting win over Belarus 3-2 (23-25, 25-18, 25-16, 12-25, 15-10). The South Americans can still make it through - but they have to beat Thailand on Monday, which would leave Belarus at the bottom of the pool.

With Guadalupe Martin scoring 18 points and Bianca Cugno 17 more, Argentina got more balls on the floor and posted 14 blocks (five each by Martin and Maria Puljiz) to edge the European side.


Argentina's Guadelupe Martin gets past the Belarus block of Lizaveta Bahayeva and Darya Sauchuk at the 2019 FIVB Girls' U18 World Championship in Cairo.

To close the day in Cairo, Russia struggled to overcome Thailand 3-1 (22-25, 25-23, 25-9, 25-18), but eventually remained unbeaten at the top of Pool C.

Thailand began building up a lead early into the first set and although Russia caught up at 21-21, the Asian side broke again with a 3-0 run to reach set point with three to spare. Russia just managed to pull one back, before conceding on a service error by Arina Fedorovtseva.

It was exactly the opposite in the second, with Natalia Slautina bringing home the last attack to see Russia draw level.

An 8-0 run after 7-5 in the third saw Russia shoot to 15-5 and take full control of the game and keep the momentum through to the fourth.

Elizaveta Kochurina scored a match-high of 17 points, including six of her team's 17 blocks (another five stuffs contributed by Tatiana Kadochkina), though overall Russia lacked the patience needed to cope with Thailand's digging.

All qualifiers confirmed in Pool D
The top four teams advancing to the knockout stage of the World Championship have been confirmed in Pool D at Cairo, after Turkey downed Bulgaria 3-1 (25-20, 25-23, 23-25, 25-13) in the Balkan derby.

Turkey could have made things easier for themselves, had they not blown a 20-15 lead in the third as Bulgaria recovered with a 3-10 run. Bulgaria reached set point with two to spare and Selin Salim attacked off the block of Elif Su Ericek in Bulgaria's first sideout opportunity to keep her team at least temporarily alive.

Aleyna Gocmen was Turkey's top scorer on 15 points, two short of Maria Yordanova's match high of 17 which included four aces.

Previously in Cairo Japan had brought down Peru 3-1 (25-22, 28-26 24-26, 25-15) with Rino Murooka leading the scoring on 17 points. Following Bulgaria's defeat, this leaves Japan the sole undefeated team in Pool D. Regardless, both sides had already secured their berths in the Last 16.

Congo are out of contention, after Turkey's win today. Even if Congo beat Turkey on Monday, they'd still be a point short.

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