USA (USA) vs. Serbia (SRB) men - Pool B #7282635

One day before the end of the FIVB Road to Paris Volleyball Qualifiers Pool B tournament in Tokyo, United States and Japan qualified for next year’s Olympic Games. USA will compete in the men’s volleyball Olympic tournament for the 13th time in history. On Saturday, they delivered their sixth straight victory in the pool, a shutout of Serbia, to become the first team to secure a spot at Paris 2024, along with hosts France. So far in the history of the Olympic Games, the Americans have earned three gold and two bronze medals. In the last match of the day, Japan shut out Slovenia to claim the second ticket from the pool. The Asian team will play at the Olympics for the 10th time. They have a full set of medals from the first three editions of the Olympic event in men’s volleyball.

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Hammering out Saturday’s win over Serbia, United States, now on a 6-0 win-loss record and 18 points, made sure they will finish among the top two teams in the pool at the end of Sunday’s last competition day in the Japanese capital. Meanwhile, their European opponents are currently fourth on 3-3 and nine.

The match was a one-sided affair, in which the Serbians managed to take short-lived leads only early into each of the first two sets. The Americans clearly outplayed the opponents in all scoring elements, most notably in serving, with 12 aces against two. Middle blocker Maxwell Holt produced four of those aces and raised two kill blocks towards a match-high 13 points. The other middle, Jeffrey Jendryk, and opposite Matthew Anderson added 11 points, including two aces, each, while outside hitter Aaron Russell scored 10 times. His counterpart Miran Kujundzic and opposite Aleksandar Atanasijevic led Serbia with 12 and 11 points, respectively.

“I feel really good about this victory. I think one of the hardest parts about this job are the intensity and focus on getting qualified for the Olympic Games,” USA’s head coach John Speraw told Volleyball World. “So in the back of your mind there is always that quest to make sure you have that opportunity at the end. So for us, to get past that is exciting; it’s a relief and I’m so happy and proud of the guys, because they’ve really had an outstanding tournament, steady the whole way through. It’s a well deserved victory.”

In a very important clash for the other ticket from Tokyo to Paris, hosts Japan delighted the home fans with a sweep against Slovenia, which guaranteed them a spot at the Olympics. They improved to 5-1, 15 points and 17-5 in sets in the second place of the pool standings, leaving their European opponents behind on 4-2, 12 and 13-8.

In each of the first two sets, Japan recovered from solid Slovenian leads to be able to close the match in straight sets. While Slovenian opposite Rok Mozic put away the match high of 16 points, including three aces, Japan were led by captain Yuki Ishikawa with 15 points, including two blocks, and outside Ran Takahashi (three aces, one block)  and opposite Yuji Nishida (one ace, one block) with 13 points apiece.

Japan (JPN) vs. Slovenia (SLO) men - Pool B #7283526

Earlier in the day, Türkiye achieved a victory over Egypt to improve to 3-3 and eight points in fifth place and leave the Africans in sixth on 2-4 and four. Opposite Kaan Gurbuz contributed 29 points, including three blocks and two aces, while his Egyptian counterpart Reda Haikal finished with 22 points.

In a clash between two winless teams, Finland celebrated their first victory in Tokyo, a shutout of Tunisia. Outside Luka Marttila led the way with 13 points towards the win, while Oussama Ben Romdhane was Tunisia’s best scorer with 11 points.