USA (USA) vs. Germany (GER) women - Pool C #7070655

American players and coaching staff members pose with their 'Road to Paris' hats

Reigning Olympic champions the United States and hosts Poland delivered when it mattered the most and clinched the last two spots at the Paris 2024 Games in play at the Volleyball Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Łódź.

Americans and Polish secured critical victories on Sunday to rank first and second in Pool C and join host country France, Pool A qualifiers the Dominican Republic and Serbia and Pool B top sides Türkiye and Brazil as the first national teams guaranteed at next year’s Olympic tournament in the French capital. The remaining five spots will be earned via the FIVB Women’s Volleyball World Rankings, in June 2024.

  • All matches of the Volleyball Olympic Qualifying Tournament are available on demand on VBTV.

Needing a win over Germany on Sunday to qualify, the Americans had an early scare in their decisive match, but found their best rhythm following a first-set loss to win 3-1 (24-26, 25-21, 25-9, 25-16) and claim the first of the two spots in play in Łódź.

“I am really proud of this group, they did a wonderful job,” head coach Karch Kiraly said. “We had a disappointing loss to Poland after having the third set in hand and letting it slip away. But our team responded really well, especially after losing the first set today. Since Tokyo, we’ve been trying to find the right balance between having the patience needed to integrate new players and allow for connections and trust to be built and the impatience of always wanting more.”

Next year, in Paris, the Americans will try to become the fourth national team to successfully defend their Olympic title, joining Russia/USRR (1968-1972), Cuba (1992-1996-2000) and Brazil (2008-2012).

Opposite Annie Drews, who started on the bench, played a major role in the American victory and qualification, helping the team with a match-high 27 points (all in kills). Star outside hitter Jordan Larson, the Olympic MVP in the American campaign two years ago in Tokyo, also had a strong display, with 16 points (11 kills, three aces, two blocks).

“My focus coming into tonight was to just be where my feet were and fill in the gaps as needed,” Drews commented. “We sometimes talk about how we want to feel after the match is over. Can we truly say we have nothing left in the tank or finished with no regrets? So that was in the back of my mind tonight - playing in a way where I wouldn’t regret anything.”

Volleyball Olympic Qualifying Tournaments: results

In the final match of the event, Poland and Italy had a head-to-head battle for the second and last Olympic berth in play. Pushed by thousands of fans, the hosts overcame a first-set loss to come back and triumph 3-1 (15-25, 26-24, 25-23, 25-21) and qualify.

The result has granted the Polish, who took bronze at the Volleyball Nations League 2023 just two months ago, their return to the Olympics for the first time since Beijing 2008, when they were ninth.

Opposites Magdalena Stysiak and Ekaterina Antropova engaged in an exciting scoring duel in the match, with the Polish tallying 27 points (23 kills, four blocks), one more than the Italian, who left the court with 26 (19 kills, six blocks, one ace).

Poland (POL) vs. Italy (ITA) women - Pool C #7071531

The Polish fed from the energy of their fans to beat Italy and confirm their return to the Olympics after 16 years

Earlier on Sunday, Thailand and Slovenia ended their participation in the Volleyball Olympic Qualifying Tournament Pool C with wins. The Asians, who ranked fifth with four wins and three losses, topped Colombia 3-1 (25-19, 20-25, 25-23, 28-26), while the Europeans, who were sixth with two wins and five losses, swept Korea 3-0 (25-13, 25-20, 25-23) in Łódź.

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