The Netherlands winning the first set

Russia and the Netherlands emerged as the two teams to qualify for the semifinals from Pool E. On a thrilling Thursday at the Topsportcentrum Rotterdam, the Russians and the Dutch secured their spots in the final round of the FIVB Volleyball Women's U20 World Championship. The Netherlands will face Serbia, while Russia will have to overcome Italy on their way to the final.

On Thursday, Russia surpassed Brazil claiming a quick straight-set victory. Speeding up in their last two matches (against USA and Brazil respectively), the players led by head coach Igor Kurnosov dominated on the court against the Selecao team.

Outperforming their opponent in attack (17 successful actions compared to 8 by the Brazilian team), Russia opened the match in their favour. Led by Katia Larissa and Maria Clara, Brazil improved slightly in spiking and in the block in the next set, but Vita Akimova aced for 13-12, and Russia took the leadership to never lose it again until the referee's last whistle.

Anastasiia Chernova and Vita Akimova were perfect in spiking, completing 18 and 15 points, respectively. Brazil were strong at the block, finishing with the same number of successful blocks as the Russians (6).

“We paid special attention to these two matches, and it paid off. We are now in the semis, and we are happy," said Russia opposite Anastasiia Chernova.

It was all or nothing for USA and the Netherlands in the closing match of Pool E. Crushing USA's hopes of progressing to the semis, the Netherlands remain the only unbeaten team from the teams that are competing in Rotterdam.

The Dutch team needed only one set to grab the last available semifinals spot, and highly motivated, they did so by grabbing the first. The Netherlands were also more successful on the net and at the serving line in this set, having two blocks and one ace (while USA couldn’t record any).

USA then improved their performance, but the flying duo of Elles Dambrink/Jolien Knollema were shining, helping their team to emerge victorious in the second set too. The players around Daniel Fisher grabbed the two next sets, but in the decisive fifth, the Dutch outperformed Kami Miner and her teammates on the block.

Dambrink hammered as many as 27 points, while Knollema added 20. For USA, Emily Londot recorded 19.

"We have a new goal now, we want the fifth place. Fifth in the world sounds better than sixth, doesn’t it?” Allison Jacobs, opposite hitter of USA said.