A victory against Bulgaria has secured the North Americans a place in the second phase of the World Championship

The seventh day of the 2022 FIVB Volleyball Women’s World Championship ended with two Pool C teams guaranteeing their spots in the second phase of the tournament.

USA, who claimed their only world title back in 2014, came back strong from a two-day break to top Bulgaria 3-1 (25-14, 23-25, 25-11, 25-15) in their first match in the Polish city of Lodz.

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Earlier in the day, the other two Pool C matches ended with Canada claiming their first victory, a 3-0 (25-14, 25-16, 25-11) win over Kazakhstan, and reigning world champions Serbia triumphing for a third time in a row, topping fellow Europeans Germany also in straight sets (25-23, 25-22, 25-23).

USA, who now have three wins and nine points, and Serbia, who have also won their three encounters to amass eight points, are both guaranteed a place in the second phase of the tournament, which starts on October 4 with the four best teams from each pool.

The Germans, who won two of their first three matches for a total of six points, are also well-positioned to advance, while Canada (one win, three points), Bulgaria (no wins, one point) and Kazakhstan (no wins, no points) all maintain their hopes of making it to the next round as well.

Outside hitter Alexandra ‘Ali’ Frantti and middle blocker Chiaka Ogbogu were the players who were set the most often by setter Lauren Carlini, who had her first start at the World Championship in place of Olympic champion Jordyn Poulter.


Frantti had her most productive performance so far, with 19 points

Frantti led the American offence for a third match in the tournament, this time leaving the court with 19 points (17 kills, one block, one ace), her highest mark at the World Championship so far, while Ogbogu tallied 16 points, with eight kills, five blocks and three aces.

“Our passers did a really good job tonight and they put Lauren in a great position to use the middles,” Ogbogu commented. “It’s something we always want to do but we can only do it when we pass at this level. We’ve worked really hard to find our identity as a team and one thing we talked about was being team-first always, so that's what we have in mind when we execute.”

Olympic champion outside hitter Kelsey Robinson Cook also had a good night, with 15 points (12 kills, two blocks, one ace). Opposite Annie Drews, who ended the match with 13 points (seven kills, two blocks, four aces), had a great moment at the end of the third set when she fired three consecutive aces to get the Americans close to victory.


In her first start, Carlini had four of her hitters scoring in double digits

On the Bulgarian side, team captain and outside hitter Elitsa Vasileva Atanasijevic was the most productive player with 14 points all earned in kills.

The North Americans dominated every aspect of the game, most notably in serving, where they outscored the Bulgarians by 12 aces to three, and blocking, where they had a 12-4 advantage. The team coached by Karch Kiraly also scored more points from kills (50 to 43) and opponent errors (24 to 15).

The competition in Pool C continues on Friday in Lodz with three more matches – Serbia vs. Kazakhstan at 13:00 local time (11:00 GMT), Bulgaria vs. Canada at 16:00 local time (14:00 GMT) and USA vs. Germany at 19:00 local time (17:00 GMT).