On the second day of Volleyball Nations League Final Round Pool Play, Poland defeated Iran and Russia swept France, results which locked in three of the four semifinalists for the tournament.
Poland added the victory over Iran to one over Brazil from Wednesday, which gave the team an untouchable 2-0 record in Pool B, and with France going 0-2 in its Final Round pool play matches, the USA and Russia will both advance to the semifinals out of Pool A, regardless of what happens in Friday’s match between the two teams.
The winner of Friday’s meeting between Iran and Brazil will determine the fourth semifinalist.
Watch Iran vs. Brazil and USA vs. Russia, right here on FloVolleyball. Friday’s matches begin at 5 PM CT, with the second match scheduled to begin at 8 PM CT.
Here’s a quick recap of what went down in Thursday’s pool play action.
Poland def. Iran 3-1 (21-25, 25-18, 25-20, 25-22)
Iran started with the upper hand versus Poland, winning the first set, but Poland found its footing and won the next three sets and the match.
“I think the first set we were not blocking and defending,” Poland head coach Vital Heynen said. “Our best weapon is block defense. If you don’t block defense, we can’t win. A lot of teams can’t win without block defense. During the match we got better and better. We started to control their spiking and you see a different game.
“Yesterday we played five sets and we should be the physically weaker one. But we showed to be the stronger one. The longer we played the better we got.”
Bartosz Bednorz, who scored a team-high 18 points versus Brazil on Wednesday, once again led the charge for Poland versus Iran. The 24-year-old outside hitter put away 20 kills, two blocks, and two aces for a match-high 24 points.
Iranian opposite Amir Ghafour scored 22 points, which wasn’t enough to win the match for his team but did push him into the lead on the tournament’s Best Scorers list.
Russia def. France 3-0 (25-16, 25-23, 25-17)
Russia put on a blocking clinic in its sweep of France, collecting 20 stuffs to France’s seven. Captain and starting setter Igor Kobzar also ran a very balanced offense and four Russia players finished the match with double-digit points.
France got 13 points from opposite Jean Patry and 11 from Thibault Rossard, who subbed in for Kevin Tillie midway through the first set and stayed in for the remainder of the match.
“They destroyed us. There is nothing more to say,” France captain Benjamin Toniutti said. “We are not playing well. We cannot be happy with our performance during this Final Six as we didn’t play our best volleyball even if we missed a lot of important players. We have to play better. Now we come back to France, and work as we have a big tournament in almost a month for Olympic qualification.”