Dominicans continue to capitalise on Volleyball Empowerment and top final Pool A standings
After their triumph at the NORCECA Continental Championship earlier this month, FIVB Volleyball Empowerment beneficiary the Dominican Republic created the biggest surprise of the women’s FIVB Road to Paris Volleyball Qualifiers, moving some of the world’s biggest powerhouses out of the way to top Pool A and book one of the six tickets to the Paris 2024 Olympic Games on offer. The Queens of the Caribbean are in the impressive company of reigning two-time back-to-back world champions and Pool A runners-up Serbia, as well as Türkiye and Brazil from Pool B, and the United States and Poland from Pool C, as the first six national teams to join hosts France at the Games next year.
The Dominican Republic women’s national team has so far been allocated a total of CHF 510,000 worth of Volleyball Empowerment coach support. The team will compete at the Olympics for the fourth time in history. Reaching the quarterfinals at London 2012 is the country’s best result so far in Olympic volleyball.
Pool A in Ningbo, China
The Pool A tournament in Ningbo did not start well for the Dominican Republic after a 3-2 defeat at the hands of Czechia. Steered by Brazilian coach Marcos Kwiek, the team quickly changed course and went on a fantastic six-game winning streak, starting with victories over Canada (3-2), Ukraine (3-0) and Mexico (3-0). The team then made headlines with four-set defeats of world champs Serbia and mighty hosts China, and reaching a deciding match with the Netherlands on Sunday, in which they persevered through a five-set battle to celebrate a 3-2 (25-20, 20-25, 25-19, 23-25, 15-12) success and a ticket to Paris 2024. The Dominican Republic was led by star outside hitter Brayelin Martinez (pictured in attack against Serbia in the photo), who became the second best scorer of the FIVB Road to Paris Volleyball Qualifiers.
Serbia remained undefeated until Friday’s upset at the hands of the Dominican Republic. On Saturday, the pool favourites bounced back with a straight-set win over the Netherlands, which was enough to reserve a spot at Paris 2024. After losing to China in four sets on Sunday’s last competition day, the southern European squad finished the pool as runners-up to the Dominicans on a 5-2 win-loss record and 15 points, a point clear of third-placed Canada.
China (4-3 and 14), Netherlands (4-3 and 13), Ukraine (2-5 and 6), Czechia (2-5 and 5) and Mexico (0-7) lined up in the places from fourth to eighth in the final Pool A standings.
Pool B in Tokyo, Japan
Türkiye completed an impeccable season by booking a spot at Paris 2024. After its historic victories in the Volleyball Nations League and at the CEV European Championship earlier this summer, the squad marched through the FIVB Road to Paris Volleyball Qualifier in Tokyo undefeated in seven matches to top the final Pool B standings.
As expected, the big race for the other Olympic ticket from Tokyo to Paris unfolded between Türkiye, Brazil and hosts Japan. The three teams went through the first four competition days unbeaten and left it down to the games between each other on the last three days to determine the outcome. Türkiye produced a 3-0 (25-21, 29-27, 25-19) victory over Brazil on Friday and followed up with a 3-1 (22-25, 25-22, 26-24, 25-12) comeback win over Japan on Saturday to snatch one of the spots in Paris. Inspired by the fantastic support of the home crowd in Tokyo, Japan came back from a set down twice in Sunday’s winner-takes-all decider against Brazil, but the South Americans had the upper hand in the tie-breaker, 3-2 (25-21, 22-25, 27-25, 15-25, 15-10).
Puerto Rico (4-3), Argentina (3-4), Belgium (2-5), Bulgaria (1-6) and Peru (0-7), in that order, took the places from fourth to eighth in the Pool B table.
Pool C in Lodz, Poland
Italy, hosts Poland and defending Olympic champions the USA were the main favourites for the two Olympic tickets on offer in Pool C. They marched undefeated through the first three competition days in Lodz, but on the fourth, Poland were the first to allow an upset, 3-2 at the hands of Thailand. Still, it came down to the matches between the three teams on the last three days to determine the top places in the final standings.
On Friday, the United States defeated Italy in four sets, 3-1 (25-19, 23-25, 25-21, 25-18), to edge forward, but Poland pulled them back with a 3-1 (27-25, 16-25, 25-23, 25-16) win on Saturday. Still, the Americans recovered with a four-set victory over Germany on Sunday to secure its place among the top two in the pool and left it to Poland and Italy to battle it out with each other for the other vacancy in the last game of the tournament. The Poles delighted the home fans in Lodz with a 3-1 (15-25, 26-24, 25-23, 25-21) comeback win over the Italians and a ticket to Paris.
The USA topped the final pool standings on 6-1 and 18 points, separated from runners-up Poland on set ratio. Italy finished third on 5-2, followed by Thailand and Germany on 4-3 and 11 points each, Slovenia (2-5), Colombia (1-6) and Korea (0-7).
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