Italy continued their winning streak at the FIVB Volleyball U20 Women’s World Championship with a straight-set victory over Serbia, also unbeaten until now, to top the final standings in Pool F in Kortrijk, leaving the opponents in the runner-up position as both teams move on to the semifinals of the tournament. Earlier on Thursday, Poland shut out the Dominican Republic in a direct battle for the third place in the pool.

To win the first set, Poland recovered from an early six-point deficit and eventually hammered out a series of nine points in a row to turn the score from 16-21 to 25-21. The next two sets were all about Poland, with both set winners coming from the aces of Martyna Czyrnianska (in the second) and Martyna Lazowska (in the third). Czyrnianska was the top scorer of the match on 16 points, including a total of three aces. Poland’s captain Julia Orzol, on 11 points, was the only other player to reach the double digits in the match.

Statistically, Poland outscored the Dominican Republic on all counts, except for the unforced errors. The European team delivered eight aces, 12 stuff blocks and 42 spiking kills, against three, two and 26, respectively, for the Dominicans.

“It was tough. We are very happy with this victory, especially since we lost our two previous matches,” said Gabriela Lendzioszek, Poland’s substitute opposite. “The Dominican Republic did not make it easy for us, especially in the first set, but we fought back and are very happy with the final result.”

Serbia came back from a 22-15 lag to score seven in a row and level the score in the first set, but failed to tilt the score in their favour. After completely dominating the second set and the second half of the third set, the Italians celebrated with a straight-set victory with sub-in opposite Julia Ituma delivering the winner with a monster block.

Across the three sets, the Italians outblocked Serbia by 11 stuffs to eight. While both sides tallied an equal number of 39 spiking kills each, Italy also outclassed Serbia in serving with six aces against two.

Serbia’s substitute opposite Branka Tica came up with the match high of 15 points. Her teammate Aleksandra Uzelac and Italy’s Beatrice Gardini were next down on the scorers chart with 13 points each, followed by Julia Ituma with 11.

“We played a good match where during all three sets we stayed very calm and concentrated. It was a team win,” said Italy’s setter and captain Gaia Guiducci. “We are looking forward to the next games in Rotterdam.”