Agustin Loser spikes through the middle

Argentina advanced to the FIVB Volleyball Men’s World Championship 2022 quarterfinals after a straight-set win over Serbia in a Round of 16 match played in Gliwice on Tuesday. The South Americans had a fantastic performance individually and as a team and mastered a 3-0 (25-23, 25-21, 25-23) victory, handing the Europeans their first defeat of the tournament, which also proved their last.

Argentina will find out their opponents in Thursday’s quarterfinal later on Tuesday. Starting at 21:00 local time (19:00 GMT) in Gliwice, Brazil and Iran will battle it out for the last spot among the best eight of the World Championship.

· Watch all FIVB Volleyball Men's World Championship 2022 matches live on Volleyball TV.

In each of the first two sets of the game, Argentina were down three or four points, but managed to come back and go through the match unharmed. The Serbians were blocking really well, but the Argentineans were blocking even better, and that’s the element that made the biggest difference on the way to success.

Middle blocker Agustin Loser owned the net with a brilliant performance in both spiking and blocking. He tallied four kill blocks. With the first one he levelled the first set at 13-13. With the second, he gave his team the first two-point lead at 21-19. Then Loser’s successful swing brought in set point at 24-22, soon to be converted to a 25-23 win by outside hitter Ezequiel Palacios with a monster block. In the second set, Argentina took their first lead at 20-19 on Loser’s block. This is how he scored the first point of the third set too. The 24-year-old middle was also the most efficient spiker of the match, producing eight kills at a success rate of 89%. At the end of the game, his off-the-block hit brought in match point at 24-22. A moment later, he converted it himself with another attack for 25-23.

After losing the first set, Serbia started the second with backup opposite Dusan Petkovic on the court instead of Aleksandar Atanasijevic. Petkovic stormed in with two back-to-back aces for 2-0. However, it was Argentina’s outside Facundo Conte who closed the set off with two aces in a row for 25-21. Conte added two kill blocks and nine spiking points to finish the game with 13 points, one short of opposite Bruno Lima’s match high of 14, all in offence. Lima hit at a success rate of 67% to top the scorers’ chart of the match.

In between his magical sets for the Argentinean spikers, playmaker Luciano De Cecco scored three points of his own, including that monster block with which his team regained the lead at 6-5 in the third set. Later in that set, the captain made his most brilliant move in the match, faking a spike, but instead, jump-setting for middle blocker Martin Ramos, who hammered it down for 21-18.

“We played really well! Serbia are really tough, but we played good volleyball against an amazing team, so we are proud of the way we fought and of the result. It’s amazing!” De Cecco said after the match. “Technically, we played really well. We played really well in serving. Maybe we played awfully in the last three matches, but today we delivered well and we enjoyed it.”

Serbian star outside hitter Uros Kovacevic led his team’s scorers with 13 points to his name, including an off-the-net ace to narrow the gap down to one at 23-22 in the money time of the third set. Middle blocker Srecko Lisinac added another 12, including two stuffs and 10 kills at a 67% success rate in offence. Fellow middle Marko Podrascanin led the blockers with four stuffs, including two in a row for 9-6 in the second set.