Volleyball Olympic Qualifying Tournament - News

Serbia (SRB) vs. Netherlands (NED) women - Pool A #7047551

The Serbian players celebrate

Reigning two-time world champions Serbia became the first Pool A team to reserve their spot at the Paris 2024 Olympic Games from the FIVB Road to Paris Volleyball Qualifier in Ningbo, while home favourites China are shockingly out of contention. After Saturday’s results, only Dominican Republic and the Netherlands stayed in contention for the second ticket from Ningbo to Paris and will battle for it in a direct head-to-head showdown on Sunday at 16:00 local time (08:00 UTC).

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After downing Serbia on Friday, Dominican Republic dropped another sensational result on Saturday, mastering a 3-1 (25-23, 21-25, 25-14, 25-14) victory over mighty China and knocking the home team out of contention.

The first set of the match was the most interesting one. The lead changed hands several times before Dominican opposite Gaila Gonzalez spiked for the 25-23 winner. China reacted immediately, took control of the second set and kept pace to level the match after 25-21. The next two sets, however, were completely one-sided, with the Queens of the Caribbean dominating on the court towards two 25-14 wins.

The Dominicans made more unforced errors than the opponents, but well made up for it in offence (60-43 in spike kills) and on the block (10-4 in stuffs). Outside hitter Brayelin Martinez was once again on fire and delivered the match high of 25 points, including one ace and one block. Gaila Gonzalez added another 21 points, consisting of two aces and 19 kills in attack, including the match winner. Outside Yonkaira Pena put away 16 points, while China’s most prolific player, outside Li Yingying, scored 11 times.

China (CHN) vs. Dominican Republic (DOM) women - Pool A #7048152

Dominican Republic’s Gaila Gonzalez in attack

In another important clash on Saturday, Serbia lived up to their status of pool favourites and handed the Netherlands a convincing 3-0 (25-19, 25-16, 25-20) shutout, which, at the end of the day, proved sufficient for an Olympic visa to Paris. During the three sets of the match, star opposite Tijana Boskovic piled up 20 points to top the scorers’ chart of the match. She spiked at a 58% success rate and added an ace and a kill block to her tally. Outside hitter Sara Lozo (two aces) and middle blocker Maja Aleksic (five kill blocks) contributed 15 and 14 points, respectively. Nova Marring of the Netherlands finished with 11 points, all in attack.

Serbia top the current Pool A standings on a 5-1 win-loss record and 15 points, separated from second-placed Dominican Republic on set ratio. The Netherlands are third on 4-2 and 12, followed by Canada (4-2 and 11), China (3-3), Czechia (2-4), Ukraine (1-5) and Mexico (0-6).

In the first match of the day, Ukraine managed a 3-1 (12-25, 25-23, 25-18, 25-15) victory over Czechia to celebrate their first win of the tournament. Middle blocker and captain Svitlana Dorsman was the best scorer of the match with 20 points, including two aces and a kill block, while outside Helena Havelkova led the Czech scorers with 16 points, including two blocks.

Then, in an all-NORCECA clash, Canada downed Mexico in straight sets, 3-0 (25-22, 25-22, 25-17). Opposite Kiera Van Ryk led the way with 17 points, including two aces and two blocks, while outside Grecia Castro Lopez was Mexico’s most productive player with 16 points.