FM WU18 DOMvsEGY (33)

Dominican Republic and Peru overcame Egypt to finish third and fourth in the Pool B of the 2021 FIVB Volleyball Girls’ World Championship, in Durango, Mexico, and advance to the Round of 16 of the tournament, which will be played on Sunday.

The Dominicans confirmed their qualification in a direct matchup with the Egyptians, which the Central Americans won 3-1. The result benefited the Peruvians, who had lost to pool leaders Italy in straight sets in the opening match of the day, but still managed to advance.

Undefeated in the pool with four victories, Italy ranked first, followed by fellow Europeans Turkey, which won three matches. The Dominican Republic were third with two positive results while the Peruvians were fourth with a single win. Their opponents will come from Pool A, which completes its calendar later on Friday. Winless Egypt will play in the playoffs 17-20.

The key match between Dominicans and Egyptians had the Africans in control at the beginning, but the Central Americans bounced back to win after four sets. Showing strength, the winners were superior in every skill, outscoring their opponents in kills (54-40), blocks (10-8) and aces (8-7).

Opposite Ariana Rodriguez played a pivotal role in the Dominican qualification as the left-handed player registered a match-high 23 points (19 kills, two blocks, two aces). Also producing well for the Caribbean were middle blockers Alondra Tapia and Alanae Margaritha, who delivered 15 points each. Egypt’s most prolific player in the match were outside hitters Toqaallah Eassa and Malak Shanhein, who scored 13 points apiece.

“This match was a little bit similar to our victory against Peru,” Rodriguez commented. “We didn’t start well but managed to change our attitude in the second set. We were talking more to each other and played as a team. I believe that we’ve been playing well in the tournament, except for the match against Italy, we had good performances. I’m really excited and looking forward to the playoffs. We’re improving as a team and the key for us will be to play strong and communicate well right from the beginning from now on.”

Italy entered the match already guaranteed as the pool winner but didn’t slow down, winning their fourth match and the third in straight sets. The Europeans played well in the key moments and outscored the Peruvians in kills (44-31), blocks (8-6) and aces (4-3).

Middle blocker Nausica Acciarri in action during the match

Middle blocker Nausica Acciarri in action during the match

Peru’s captain and outside hitter Alondra Alarcon, who was celebrating her 17th birthday, was the match’s top scorer with 20 points (19 kills, one ace). Italy, on the other hand, heavily rotated their lineup during the second and third sets, getting production from a variety of players, most notably outside hitter Sara Bellia (11), opposite Giulia Viscioni (10) and middle blockers Nicole Modesti (9) and Islam Gannar (9).

“Today wasn’t our best performance in the tournament but I’m happy that we managed to find solutions for the issues we had during the game,” Modesti commented. “We’re really satisfied with the results but we believe we still have some things to adjust tactically and technically. Today we could use all of our players and that was important because we’ll need everyone to contribute in the playoffs.”