Italy and Serbia secured their participation in the semifinals of the FIVB Volleyball U20 Women’s World Championship. On Wednesday in Kortrijk, they claimed their second wins in Pool F, over Poland and the Dominican Republic, respectively, and are now unreachable at the top two spots in the pool standings before facing each other for the first place on Thursday. The Poles and the Dominicans are also set to meet on Thursday in a battle for first victory in the second stage of the tournament. Both will continue in the group to distribute the places from fifth to eight in the final standings of the World Championship.

It was like a twin match of the first game these two teams played in Kortrijk four days ago. Italy dominated the first set and Poland leveled the score in the second; Italy won the most competitive third set and then cruised to the victory in the fourth. Only this time it was the blocking that made the huge difference in the match. The Italians produced 17 kill blocks, against only three for Poland, towards the 3-1 (25-12, 19-25, 27-25, 25-12) win. The Poles still managed to score almost the same amount of attacking points as the Italians did, and outplayed them in serving with eight aces against six, but it was not enough for winning more than a set.

The ending of the third set was key to the whole match. Poland wasted the triple set point they had at 24-21. Italy scored four in a row to edge ahead before winning by 27-25 in the overtime.

Italian opposite Giorgia Frosini and Polish substitute outside Julia Orzol shared the top scorer honours with 24 points each. Linda Nwakalor delivered five of Italy’s 17 stuffs.

“I want to start by saying this was a team victory. I am very happy that we showed a lot of enthusiasm and we never gave up. Today we were very strong in offence and our setter made everybody score. Again, our block-defence paid off really well,” Italy’s middle blocker Emma Graziani said. “Now we look forward to tomorrow's game against Serbia.”

Serbia hammered out their second shutout of the Dominican Republic at the World Championship. After defeating them in straight sets in the first stage of the tournament, in the second stage they produced a 3-0 (25-13, 25-18, 25-18) blowout on Wednesday to secure their spot in the semifinals.

The Serbs outplayed their opponents on all counts, but the difference in the blocking stood out. To win the match, they delivered seven stuffs and allowed none to the Dominicans. The European side were a lot more successful in offence, producing 41 spiking points at a 55% success rate, against 22 and 29% for the Caribbeans.

Outside hitter Branka Tica contributed 14 points to the victory including the match winner at the end of the third set. The only other player to reach the double digits in the match was her cross-court teammate Aleksandra Uzelac with 10 points.

“It's not easy to beat an opponent twice in the same tournament,” Tica said. “We played a very solid match and never lost control. If you combine that with our great energy today, we deserved the win. Now we should forget about today and prepare for a big game against Italy.”