News ID: 254796
Published: 0254 GMT June 24, 2019

Brazil takes lead, but race for VNL Final Six spots still wide open

Brazil takes lead, but race for VNL Final Six spots still wide open

Brazil took advantage of Iran’s straight-set loss to France to take the lead in the standings as the Week 4 of the men’s 2019 FIVB Volleyball Nations League wrapped up on Sunday.

However, the race for the five spots in the Final Six is still wide open as no team, other than host USA, has secured its advancement, reported.

The Olympic champion is now closest to booking its ticket to the finals and if it wins just two sets in the three remaining matches, it can start packing for the flight to Chicago.

On Sunday, at home in Cuiaba, Brazil extended its winning streak to five after crushing defending VNL title-holder Russia in straight sets with Wallace De Souza and Ricardo Lucarelli Souza leading the way with 12 and 11 points, respectively.

The Russian serving machine delivered seven aces, not enough to change the course of the match. With this result, Brazil climbed to the top of the table on an 11-1 win-loss record and 30 points, while Russia dropped to fourth on 9-3 and 26.

France surpassed Russia with a stunning shutout of host Iran to complete a clean sweep of the pool in Ardabil and move up third on 9-3 and 28.

With 15 points to his name, Trevor Clevenot led the French to victory over the top-placed team in the table, pushing the Iranians down to second on 10-2 and 30. Had the Asian powerhouse won this match, it would have qualified for the finals, but now VNL’s best scorer (on 182 points) and best attacker Amir Ghafour and best setter Saeid Ma’rouf and their teammates will have to wait till the last week, when one victory would be enough to send them to the finals.

The fantastic ambience at the Rezazadeh Hall was highly commended by all participants.

“The atmosphere was beyond volleyball games, and we need this kind of atmosphere to play volleyball,” said France’s captain Benjamin Toniutti.

“I have played in a lot of countries, but this time it was way different, and we really enjoyed the weekend. I thank the people for this."

In another decisive clash between key contenders for the Final Six on Sunday, Poland came back from a set down against host Italy twice to eventually celebrate a 3-2 (23-25, 25-22, 23-25, 25-21, 25-23) victory and stay well within reach of the top five.

Maciej Muzaj and Aleksander Sliwka contributed 26 and 21 points to the win, respectively, while Giulio Pinali was Italy's top scorer with 19. The world champion won each of its three matches in Milan in five sets to rise to the sixth place on 8-4 and 21, while the Italians, having lost two of their three games at home, dropped from third to the fifth place, currently on 8-4 and 25.

"I really wanted three tiebreaks in three days and it happened!” commented Poland’s coach Vital Heynen.

“I wanted my guys not to give up, and they didn’t! I am really proud of them...”

The deciding VNL action will move to Brisbane (Australia), Brasilia (Brazil), Plovdiv (Bulgaria) and Leipzig (Germany) on June 28-30.


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