Lausanne, Switzerland, January 10, 2020 - Semifinals are set in Europe as the continental qualifiers for the women's volleyball tournament of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games continued Friday, with Poland set to meet Turkey and Germany to take on the Netherlands on Saturday, while The favourites in North & Central America and the Caribbean (NORCECA) very narrowly avoided huge upsets.
North & Central America and Caribbean
Puerto Rico had to fight back from a set down to edge Canada 3-2 (25-22, 22-25, 22-25, 25-23, 15-12) in the opening match of the four-team, single round-robin pool at Santo Domingo.
Stephanie Enright with a match high of 24 points powered Puerto Rico, who had just a very slight advantage over Canada in all skills. Kiera Van Ryk was Canada's best scorer on 19 points.
Canada's Emily Maglio gets blocked by Puerto Rico's Daly Santana in the opening match of the NORCECA qualifiers for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
There was even more drama in Santo Domingo later in the day, when Mexico came back from two sets down to force a tie-break, before the Dominican Republic got it right for a 3-2 (25-19, 25-17, 21-25, 23-25, 15-5) win.
The 'Queens of the Caribbean' vastly outblocked Mexico 17 to 9 with Jineiry Martinez and Lisvel Eve contributing seven stuffs each. Brayelin Martinez of the Dominican Republic and Samantha Bricio of Mexico shared the top-scoring spot of the match with 26 points each.
Brayelin Martinez gets through the block of Mexico's Jocelyn Urias and Ivone Martinez at the NORCECA qualifiers for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
Saturday's semifinals at the Europe qualifiers for Tokyo 2020 have been confirmed, after pool wrapped up Friday evening in the Dutch city of Apeldoorn.
Semifinals at the Europe qualifiers for the Olympics:
● Poland v Turkey
● Germany v the Netherlands
In the dramatic deciding match of the day, Turkey survived the attempted comeback of Belgium, dominating the tie-break for a 3-2 (25-20, 25-15, 20-25, 22-25, 25-10) win that earned them the last open berth in the top four of the European qualifiers in Apeldoorn.
Turkey setter Naz Aydemir started only in the tie-break (though had come on as a sub in sets 3 and 4), guiding her side to an early lead which they then kept throughout. The scoring was led by Meryem Boz who bagged 26 points and Hande Baladin who added another 20. Britt Herbots scored 22 for Belgium.
Germany made sure to take first place in their pool, with a 3-0 (25-15, 25-18, 25-23) sweep of Croatia, who were left winless after three matches.
Kimberly Drewniok (who only started in the third set), Hanna Orthmann and Camila Weitzel all shared top-scoring honours with 10 points each for Germany - on par with Croatia's Sanja Gamma.
Poland wrapped up pool play in Apeldoorn, shutting out Azerbaijan 3-0 (25-19, 25-19, 25-23) to remain undefeated at the top of their pool, leaving Azerbaijan winless at the bottom.
Poland coach Jacek Nawrocki rested several of his key players after the second set, ahead of Saturday's semifinals, and Marina Lukasik, who came in in the second set emerged the team's top scorer on 12 points - though the overall top scorer of the game was Yelyzaveta Samadova with 14 for Azerbaijan.
Argentina from South America and Kenya from Africa have already punched their tickets to Tokyo 2020 since Thursday.
They join Serbia, China, USA, Brazil, Russia and Italy who had already qualified since last August through an intercontinental process, plus Japan who had secured their spot by default as hosts of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
The remaining three tickets to complete the 12-team Olympic lineup will be handed out on Sunday in Asia, Europe and North & Central America and the Caribbean.
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
Quick links - Volleyball:
FIVB Continental Tokyo Volleyball Qualification