Anna Danesi celebrates during the Italian victory over the Netherlands on Sunday

Only 16 of the 24 national teams that started the 2022 FIVB Volleyball Women’s World Championship will continue to chase medals in the 19th edition of the tournament after the first phase of pool play was concluded in Arnhem, the Netherlands, on Sunday.

The final day of the opening phase of the tournament featured two Pool A encounters, with Italy topping host the Netherlands 3-1 (25-13, 22-25, 25-16, 25-21) and Belgium downing Cameroon in three sets (25-8, 25-19, 25-14). There was also a match in Pool D, which saw Japan claim a straight-set (25-17, 25-19, 25-17) win over Argentina.

· Watch all FIVB Volleyball Women’s World Championship 2022 matches live on Volleyball TV.

The first phase of the World Championship included as many as 60 matches played in the Dutch city of Arnhem and the Polish towns of Lodz and Gdansk. Over the course of ten days, it featured some exciting encounters and stellar individual performances.

The finalists of the 2018 edition of the World Championship, Italy and Serbia were the only ones to go undefeated in pool play. The Italians had the best campaign among all 24 teams with 15 points earned in five wins while the Serbians totalled 14 despite having also won all their five encounters.

Pool D was among the most closely contested as, besides being the one in which all six teams earned points, it had a triple tie between China, Japan and Brazil at the top of the standings. All three teams finished pool play with 12 points and four wins and their set ratios were used to determine first, second and third places.

The tournament also had some shocking upsets during pool play. The first one happened on the second day, when Thailand topped Türkiye in a dramatic five-setter. Last Friday, it was Japan to steal the show with a 3-1 victory over Brazil.

Belgium’s 3-1 win over the Netherlands on the same day could also be considered an upset, but what really stood out in that encounter was the stellar performance of Britt Herbots. The Belgian outside hitter became the first player to score 40 points or more in this year’s event, tallying 41 against the Dutch.

With the top four teams in each pool moving forward to the second phase, the next round of the tournament will have two pools with eight teams each, from where the eight quarterfinalists will emerge.

Pool E will welcome a new Dutch city into the World Championship, Rotterdam, which will stage the matches involving the four teams that initially were in Pool A – Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium and Puerto Rico – and the four sides that advanced from Pool D – China, Japan, Brazil and Argentina.

Pool F, on the other hand, will be based in Lodz and will feature the four national teams that moved forward from Pools B – Türkiye, Thailand, the Dominican Republic and Poland – and C – Serbia, the United States, Canada and Germany.

The second phase will be played across six days, from October 4-9.