Lausanne, Switzerland, January 8, 2020 - The Netherlands clinched a semifinal spots while Germany closed in on another and Turkey stayed alive in Europe; Korea and Kazakhstan secured their their semifinals berths in Asia; it's down to Colombia v Argentina in South America; and Cameroon retained just a very faint glimmer of hope in Africa, as the continental qualifiers for the last remaining berths to the women's volleyball tournament of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games continued on Wednesday across the world.
Colombia and Argentina will decide the South America ticket between them when they go head-to-head on Thursday, after both doubled their victories Wednesday in the single four-team round-robin pool in Bogota and retain absolutely perfect records.
Amanda Coneo with 15 points and Maria Martinez with 12 led hosts Colombia to their 3-0 (24-23, 25-12, 25-12) sweep of Peru.
Previously in Bogota, Argentina had shut out Venezuela 3-0 (25-19, 25-16, 24-20) on the back of 18 points by Lucia Fresco and another 15 by Elina Rodriguez - the later attacking for 58% (11/19) and adding three blocks.
In Apeldoorn, the Netherlands cancelled one Bulgaria set point in the third to complete a 3-0 (25-19, 25-19, 26-24) sweep of Bulgaria that sees the hosts secure a spot in the semifinals of the European qualifiers.
Nika Daalderop collected a match-high 19 points and Anne Buijs added another 18 for the Dutch, who overwhelmed Bulgaria on the net - both in blocking and attacking. Elitsa Vasileva with 12 was Bulgaria's best scorer.
Previously at Apeldoorn, Germany were given a run for their money before eventually overcoming Belgium 3-1 (33-31, 26-24, 24-26, 25-22). It could hardly get much closer than this.
Louisa Lippmann reached the 30-point mark to lead the scoring for Germany, alongside Hanna Ortmann who added 25. Britt Herbots was Belgium's best scorer on 26.
There was not too much to separate the two sides, but Germany did enjoy a slight edge in attacking efficiency and reception.
Belgium blew a six-point lead at 13-19 in the first set, before Germany rallied to draw level at 20. Belgium also wasted six set points, as Germany rallied to bring it home on the fourth try of their own.
Also in Apeldoorn, Turkey blew five set points from 24-21 and again at 25-24 and 26-25, allowing Croatia a final three-point run to come away with the first set, before pulling together to come back and score their first win 3-1 (26-28, 25-12, 25-20, 25-21).
Very well-spread-out scoring from Zehra Gunes (16), Hande Baladin (15), Eda Erdem (14), Meryem Boz (14) and Meliha Ismailoglu (13) kept the Croatians guessing where the next one was coming from. This included six blocks from Gunes and a total of ten aces from all around.
Cameroon bounced back from the previous day's five-set defeat to Kenya, beating Egypt 3-0 (25-19, 25-22, 25-17) at home in Yaounde in the Africa qualifiers. The results means that mathematically the 'Lionesses' remain in contention for the single ticket to Tokyo 2020 - but it's beyond their control now, with Kenya needing a win over Nigeria on Thursday to make the Olympics.
Cameroon were powered by Estelle Adiana who scored a match high 23 points, including three aces and two blocks. Zeina Elelemy was Egypt's best scorer with 12.
Cameroon's Berthrade Bikatal tips the ball over the Egypt block of Farida El Askalany and Shorouk Mahmoud in Yaounde at the Africa qualifiers for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
Led by Mmesomachi Ugochinyere who scored 16 points, Nigeria bagged their first win of the tournament, downing Botswana 3-1 (25-18, 20-25, 25-20, 25-23) - though neither team is in contention any more. Botswana's Tebogo Sejewe was the game's top scorer 17.
Botswana were outblocked by Nigeria 11 to 6, but served ten aces (five alone by Gaoleseletse Gasekgonwe) to their opponents' two.
At Rakhon Ratchasima, Kazakhstan and Korea are already in the semifinals of the Asian qualifiers, undefeated after Wednesday's games against Iran and Australia respectively. The two sides meet on Thursday, closing day of pool play, to determine their final placing within Pool B and their match-ups against the the top two teams from Pool A. Iran and Indonesia, still winless after two matches, are now eliminated.
The Asian tournament has its seven participants divided into two pools (Chinese Taipei, Thailand and Australia in Pool A; Iran, Kazakhstan, Korea and Indonesia in Pool B). The top two of each pool advance to crosswise semifinals, followed by the deciding match.
Kang Sohwi who came in off the bench in the first set emerging top scorer of the game on 15 points, including as many as nine aces, was the driving force behind Korea's crushing 3-0 (25-15, 25-9, 25-19) win over Iran. Lee Jaeyeong, who started only in the second and third sets, added another 12. Elaheh Poorsaleh Shahdehsari was Iran's best scorer on 13.
Korea's Italian coach Stefano Lavarini had the opportunity to give court time to every single one of his players, as Korea outserved Iran 16 to 4.
Lee Jaeyeong spikes for Korea in the match against Iran at Nakhon Ratchasima for the Asia qualifiers to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
Previously in Nakhon Ratchasima, Kazakhstan had bagged their first victory, shutting out Indonesia 3-0 (25-22, 25-23, 25-18).
Sana Anarkulova was Kazakhstan's best scorer on 16 points, but the match high of 21 belonged to Indonesia's Hangestri Pertiwi.
Chinese Taipei's Chang Li Yun attacks one-on-one against Australia's Kelly Lean at Nakhon Ratchasima during the Asia qualifiers for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
Chinese Taipei wrapped up the day in Nakhon Ratchasima with a 3-0 (25-20, 25-18, 25-14) sweep of Australia, that in theory leaves Pool A unresolved, though Chinese Taipei and hosts Thailand have the upper hand. Just one set by Thailand over Australia on Thursday would see the Aussies eliminated.
Led by Chang Li-Wen who brought in 14 points, Chinese Taipei were outblocked by Australia, but produced a highly more efficient attack of 55% to 33%.
Full schedules of all the continental qualifiers for Tokyo 2020:
● Africa: 5-9 January in Yaounde
● Asia: 7-12 January in Nakhon Ratchasima
● Europe: 7-12 January in Apeldoorn
● North & Central America and Caribbean: 10-12 January in Santo Domingo
● South America: 7-9 January in Bogota
Serbia, China, USA, Brazil, Russia and Italy have already qualified since last August through an intercontinental process. Japan had secured their spot by default as hosts of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
Quick links - Volleyball:
FIVB Continental Tokyo Volleyball Qualification