Serbia and Italy started the second stage of the FIVB Volleyball U20 Women’s World Championship victoriously to stay unbeaten in the tournament. In the first leg of Pool F action on Tuesday in Kortrijk, they shut out Poland and the Dominican Republic, respectively.

Serbia managed a straight-set 3-0 (25-21, 27-25, 25-23) victory over Poland in what was otherwise a hard-fought battle between two strong teams in the opening match of second-round Pool F in Kortrijk. Only in the first set, the southern Europeans prevailed with a wide lead and, even though Poland gave them a late scare by almost catching up during the last two rotations, the Serbs closed it off in their favour. In the other two sets it was the Balkan side that had to come back from a substantial Polish lead to eventually celebrate on a powerful hit by sub-in Branka Tica for the winner.

The Serbian offence made the difference in the match delivering 44 spiking points against only 33 for Poland. The Poles, however, did better in both serving (seven aces against six) and in blocking (13 stuffs against 12). Their Martyna Czyrnianska produced the match high of 15 points, followed by teammate Julita Piasecka with 14 and Serbia’s Isidora Kockarevic with 13.

“We absolutely didn't play our best game today. In all honesty, Serbia were the better team,” Poland’s opposite Karolina Druzkowska admitted after the game. One of the important things to improve is to use the scoring opportunities that we get. We have to be more patient during the game. So now we will forget about this loss and look forward to do better tomorrow.”

Italy extended their winning streak in Kortrijk to four matches after shutting out the Dominican Republic by 3-0 (25-16, 25-20, 25-15) in their first Pool F game on Tuesday. The European side dominated throughout the three sets of the match, prevailing mainly in serving, with nine aces against three for the opponents. In offence, the Italians also made a huge difference with 33 spikes against 19. They also edged the Dominicans in blocking, with 10 stuffs against eight.

Outside hitter Beatrice Gardini contributed 17 points to the victory to top the scorers chart of the match. Opposite Giorgia Frosini contributed another 12, including five stuffs. The winning point was delivered by sub-in Julia Ituma with a monster block. On the opposite side, outside Romina Cornelio scored 13 times for the Caribbeans.

“This is our fourth victory in this tournament, but it wasn't an easy one. In my opinion, there are no easy games during a world championship,” Italy’s setter and captain Gaia Guiducci said. “So we need to give everything. Every match we play, we need to stay strong. Today we had very good serving and our block-defence worked out really well.”