Volleyball Nations League 2022 Calgary Women - SRBvsCAN - 026

Jovana Stevanovic (15) and Katarina Lazovic celebrate

Serbia are the seventh national team guaranteed a place in the Women's Volleyball Nations League 2022 Finals after the reigning world champions secured their seventh victory in the tournament on Friday, in Calgary, Canada.

The bronze medallists of last year’s Tokyo Olympics spoiled Canada Day celebrations as they defeated the hosts 3-1 (25-20, 25-14, 20-25, 25-22) in front of their home fans to jump to seven wins and 20 points in the standings and book their tickets to Ankara, Türkiye.

· Watch all VNL 2022 matches live on Volleyball TV.

The Serbians join the United States, Japan, Brazil, Italy, China and hosts Türkiye among the teams already qualified for the Finals. There’s now just one spot still open with Thailand (five wins, 15 points), Canada (four wins, 12 points), Poland (four wins, 11 points) and Germany (three wins, 11 points) lining up to take it.

The Europeans counted on a fantastic performance by team captain Ana Bjelica to overcome a brave Canadian team that fed from the energy of their fans to fight until the very last point. The 30-year-old opposite had her best scoring performance so far in the VNL, leaving the court with 24 points (22 kills, one block, one ace) to lead the Serbian triumph.

The opposite started the match on fire, tooling the Canadian block to score the first point of the encounter, and hit a long angle to give the Serbians an early 2-0 lead. In the second set, she used finesse to tip the ball out of reach of the Canadian defenders to help Serbia produce a 20-10 advantage. Bjelica remained in good rhythm until the end as a hit in the fourth set the score at 21-20 and placed her team closer to the victory.

Ana Bjelica Points Made Leader in Serbia vs. Canada

Outside hitter Bojana Milenkovic also had a productive night with 15 points (nine kills, four blocks, two aces), while middle blocker Jovana Stevanovic added another seven with four kills and three blocks.

“This was a key match for us,” Stevanovic commented. “I felt that we relaxed a little bit after we won the first two sets and they did a very good job in taking advantage of that moment to create some panic on our side. But I’m very proud that we still managed to win 3-1 and qualify for the Finals. Our first goal was accomplished, but we’ll try to win against Japan on Saturday, as we would in any other match.”

Volleyball Nations League 2022 Calgary Women - SRBvsCAN - 019

Libero Teodora Pusic watches as the ball goes out

Canada had three players reaching double digits in scoring in opposite Kiera Van Ryk, with 19 (16 kills, two blocks, one ace), middle blocker Emily Maglio, with 16 (eight kills, six blocks, two aces), and outside hitter Hilary Howe, with ten (nine kills, one block).

Serbia will play their last match of the week in Calgary on Saturday, at 17.00 local time (23.00 GMT), against Japan, while Canada will be on the court right after that, at 20.00 local time (Sunday, 02.00 GMT), to face Germany. The North Americans will also play on Sunday, against the Netherlands.