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Azerbaijan, Italy, Russia and Serbia make EuroVolley quarterfinals unbeaten

Azerbaijan's players delight the home crowd in Baku with three wins in Pool A
Lausanne, Switzerland, September 25, 2017 – Azerbaijan, Italy, Russia and Serbia are the four teams that have already qualified for the quarterfinals of the 2017 CEV Volleyball European Championship - Women by winning their respective pools. Eight more teams are still alive in the competition – the pool runners-up (Poland, Belarus, Bulgaria and the Netherlands) and the third-placed teams (Germany, Croatia, Turkey and the Czech Republic) will play in the playoffs for the remaining quarterfinal spots.

Serbia were the first squad to book their ticket to the quarterfinals. The southern European team went through straight-set victories against the Czech Republic and the Netherlands, then allowed one set to Belgium, and claimed the top spot in Pool D in Ganja, Azerbaijan in the early evening hours of Sunday. The Dutch won the last match of the pool, 3-1 (25-21, 25-15, 21-25, 25-22) against the Czechs, as the two teams lined up behind Serbia in the final standings, while Belgium had to leave the competition with three defeats.

Later on Sunday evening, Italy survived a five-set drama against Croatia to stamp a 3-2 (25-23, 25-21, 19-25, 10-25, 15-11) victory and finish on top of Pool B unbeaten, although they had already secured the first place in the standings even before the beginning of this last match. In their first two games in Tbilisi, they had shut out hosts Georgia and defeated Belarus in four sets. Belarus finished runners-up with two victories, followed by Croatia with one. Winless Georgia are done with EuroVolley, left with the pride of co-hosting the finals together with neighbouring Azerbaijan.

The battles on the road to the quarterfinals continued in Azerbaijan’s capital Baku on Monday. The two yet unbeaten teams in Pool C, Bulgaria and Russia, went into a head-to-head collision to determine the pool winner. Russia came back from a set down twice during the match to eventually triumph with a 3-2 (21-25, 25-20, 23-25, 25-21, 15-13) win. The Bulgarians had to settle for the second place after playing three five-setters in three consecutive days. In the last match of the pool stage, Turkey managed a 3-1 (25-20, 25-19, 20-25, 25-23) victory over Ukraine to claim their first win of the tournament and the third place in the pool, sending the winless Ukrainians back home.

The top spot in Pool A was still up for grabs when Azerbaijan faced Germany in the very last match of the pool. The 3,400-strong crowd at the National Gymnastics Arena in Baku was delighted to see the home squad deliver their third victory – 3-1 (19-25, 25-19, 25-18, 25-18), after previously defeating Hungary and Poland in straight sets. The Germans ended up third, leaving Poland second and Hungary packing.

The entire EuroVolley action will now continue in Baku only. In Tuesday’s playoffs, Belarus will meet the Czech Republic to determine Serbia’s quarterfinal opponent, and the Netherlands will face Croatia to see who plays Italy on Thursday.

Wednesday’s playoffs will feature a clash between Poland and Turkey with the eventual winner challenging Russia on Friday. Bulgaria and Germany will lock horns to appoint Azerbaijan’s next opponent.

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