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|NLausanne, Switzerland, October 15, 2018 - The Netherlands, China, Italy and Serbia have booked all four berths in the semifinals of the 2018 FIVB Volleyball Women's World Championship after Monday play in Round 3 of the competition at Nagoya, as the defending champions USA and hosts Japan both crashed out of the medals round. It took two five-set thrillers and a couple of tournament-high scoring performances to seal the deals.|
The Dutch started it all off in Nagoya as Lonneke Sloetjes scored a tournament-high 38 points for an incredible comeback from two sets down to beat USA in five, qualify for the semifinals and send the defending champions crashing out of the tournament - sweet revenge for the Netherlands for their defeat to the Americans in the bronze medal match of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
The result also sees reigning Olympic champions China make it through to the semifinals without even having to play again.
It is the first time since 2006 that USA are out of contention for a medal at a World Championship, after finishing fourth in 2010 and striking gold in 2014.
Italy followed up a bit later in the day with Paola Egonu scoring 36 points (including match point which was only confirmed after an unsuccessful challenge by Japan) as she led her team in the second five-set nail-biter of the day. It left Italy the only undefeated team in the competition after ten matches.
All Japan could do was twice pull a set back to tie at 1-1 and 2-2 and just delay the inevitable.
Italy are now in the World Championship semifinals for the second time running. They have not been below the top six in 14 years, since finishing 13th in 2004.
For Serbia, meanwhile, it was actually all over the minute Italy won the first set against Japan and the reigning European champions and Rio 2016 Olympic silver medallists were through to the top four, set up to fight for one of the medals at this World Championship.
Other Monday highlights:
• Lonneke Sloetjes' 38 points for the Netherlands against USA is a tournament-high and gets the 27-year-old opposite her second entry in the list of players with 30 points or more in a single match at this World Championship. Sloetjes had scored 36 points in her team's four-set win against Germany on opening day of the tournament on 29 September. Thirty-six points had also been scored by Nataliya Goncharova in Russia's five-set defeat to USA and by Louisa Lippmann in Germany's five-set win over Brazil. The all-time high remains 40 points by Kazakhstan's Yelena Pavlova in her team's five-set loss to USA in 2006.
• A couple hours after Sloetjes' performance, Paola Egonu scored 36 points, falling just two short of tying the tournament height. It is Egonu's second entry in the 'Over 30s' list, after her 33 points in Italy's Round 2 four-set win over USA.
• Egonu now enjoys a slight advantage in the race to become top scorer of the tournament. Her 36 points against Japan brings her tally up to 218, meaning she's just six above Sloetjes who has climbed to 212. Both Italy and the Netherlands still have three matches to play.
USA and Japan will have to battle it out for 5th place on Friday.
Match Centres for Tuesday 16 October:
• Italy v Serbia, Pool G in Nagoya at 16:10 local time (07:10 GMT)
• The Netherlands v China, Pool H in Nagoya at 19:20 local times (10,20 GMT)
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