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Favourites emerge in race for Top 16 at Girls' U18 Worlds

Wang Wenhan beats the Egypt block of Ayah Elnady and Salma Mahmoud as China down the hosts in Ismailia for the 2019 FIVB Girls' U18 World Championship.
Ismailia, Egypt, September 7, 2019 - Only seven teams remain undefeated after Day 3 of the 2019 FIVB Girls' U18 World Championships in the Egyptian cities of Ismailia on the Suez Canal and the capital Cairo, as Brazil, China, Italy, Canada, Russia, Japan and Bulgaria all doubled their victories on Saturday.

Something has to give on Day 4, Sunday, however, as defending champions take on Canada and China clash with Brazil.

Meanwhile the battle continues in the race to make the Top 16 of the competition and the knockout stage.

Brazil, China on identical records
Brazil found little resistance from Cameroon, cruising to a 3-0 (25-14, 25-20, 25-12) win - their second in straight sets in as many matches here.

The African side struggled to control Brazil's serving and gave away almost a set's-worth of points with 24 unforced errors, as Ana Cristina Menezes top-scored with 16 points for Brazil, including a tournament high 8 aces and an attacking efficiency of 80% (8/10) while Julia Gambatto had 6/6 for 100% from the middle.

Ecstatic Brazil captain Stephany Gomes celebrates with her team mates as they bring down Cameroon at the 2019 FIVB Girls' U18 World Championship in Egypt.

But China put an end to Egypt's two-match winning streak with an emphatic 3-0 (25-17, 25-20, 25-12) that saw themselves join Brazil as the only remaining undefeated sides in Pool A - incredibly on absolutely identical records.

Wu Mengjie with 19 points topped the scoring in the game which saw China reach an impressive overall attacking efficiency of 56% (37/66) to which the hosts could not react.

Canada, Italy stay undefeated
It took Canada two sets to get going, but once they started there was no stopping them, as they completed a full turnaround from two sets down to beat Mexico 3-2 (15-25, 22-25, 25-18, 25-15, 15-11) in Ismailia. It was Canada's second win in as many matches in Pool B.

Katerina Pantovic from the outside was Canada's best scorer on 18 points, but the side's middles were highly more efficient in attacking - Jenna Pollock (who came on off the bench in the second set) at 90% (9/10) and Anna Smrek at 69% (9/13). Nonetheless, it was Mexico's Melanie Parra who posted the match high of 24 points.

But it was actually the serving that sealed the deal for Canada, who delivered a tournament high 20 aces (to Mexico's 14), five each by Pantovic and Lauren Pastor alone. More crucially, these were delivered at the most deciding moments in the game, especially in the tie-break as Canada broke away just before side-switch and kept their lead till the end.

Canada's Katarina Pantovic gets the better of the Mexico block by Maria Gonzalez and Marian Ovalle in Ismailia for the 2019 FIVB Girls' U18 World Championship.

Just a little later on, defending champions Italy cruised past Korea 3-0 (25-15, 25-14, 25-20) to join Canada as the only undefeated teams in Pool B.

Italy totally outblocked Korea with 12 stuffs (to 2) - three each from Emma Graziani, Linda Nwakalor and high scorer Giorgia Frosini. Lee Seonwoo was top scorer of the game with 14 points for Korea.

Italy's Giorgia Frosini gets the ball over the block of Korea's Choi Jeongmin in Ismailia for the 2019 FIVB Girls' U18 World Championship.

Russia stay perfect with yet another sweep
Over in Cairo, meanwhile, Russia stormed past Belarus 3-0 (25-17, 25-14, 25-15) to retain an absolutely perfect record in Pool C.

Natalia Slautina scored a match high of 12 points, including four of her team's ten blocks.

To wrap up the day, Thailand stunned Romania 3-1 (27-25, 22-25, 25-17, 25-17). It was Romania's first defeat in three matches and leaves Russia the only undefeated team in Pool C.

Thailand reached set point in the first with three to spare, but Romania cancelled all and even reached set point of their own at 24-25 with a 4-0 run, before the Asian side pulled together with three straight points and finish it 27-25 with an ace by Pimtawan Thongyos on Andrea Cojocaru.

And though Romania pulled one back to tie at 1-1, Thailand cruised in the next two sets with Wiranyupa Inchan scoring a match high 17 points and Pimtawan adding another 12.

Though Romania totally outblocked Thailand 12-2, the Balkan side committed as many as 47 unforced errors that decided the match.

Bulgaria stay undefeated, Peru reach top
Despite a killing efficiency that was not up to par, Maria Yordanova scored nine points (including three aces) to lead Bulgaria in their 3-0 (25-17, 25-17, 25-12) sweep of Congo in Cairo to stay undefeated after two matches in Pool D.

Bulgaria outserved the African rookies 10 to 3, but also took advantage of Congo's 35 unforced errors.

Peru soared to the top of the Pool D rankings (though with an extra game played compared to the two undefeated sides of Bulgaria and Japan) after thrashing Turkey 3-0 (25-18, 25-16, 25-16). Thaisa Mc Leod was again the driving force of the South Americans scoring a match high 13 points.

The Congo's Christine Grace tips the ball over the Bulgaria block of Mila Ilieva and Maria Yordanova in Cairo for the 2019 FIVB Girls' U18 World Championship.

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