Serbian players celebrate one of their 13 block points

Defending champions Serbia came out on top in one of the most anticipated matches of the first phase of the 2022 FIVB Volleyball Women’s World Championship as the Europeans downed reigning Olympic champions the United States in Lodz, Poland, on Saturday, at the conclusion of Pool C.

The match that reunited the last two world champions with the top spot in the pool at stake ahead of the second phase of the tournament saw a dominant performance from the Serbians, who topped the Americans in straight sets (25-20, 25-23, 25-13).

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

With the result, the Serbians ended pool play with five wins and 14 points, ahead of the Americans, who had four wins and 12 points. They are the first team to complete the opening stage of the World Championship with an undefeated campaign – Volleyball Nations League champions Italy could become the second on Sunday.

Much of the dominant performance by Serbia can be credited to the team’s impressive blocking efficiency as the team coached by Daniele Santarelli outscored the Americans in that skill by 13 points to one. The Europeans were also better on offence, leading in kills (38 to 30), while USA scored more points from opponent errors (22 to 21), and each team fired three aces.

The Most Valuable Player of the 2018 World Championship, Serbian star Tijana Boskovic was the match’s top scorer and the only player to reach double digits. The 25-year-old opposite left the court with 25 points (21 kills, three blocks, one ace) and a 59.38% efficiency rate on offence.

Middle blocker Jovana Stevanovic was the most effective blocker, registering five stuffs to go with her three kills. Outside hitter Sara Lozo also stood out with eight points (four kills, three blocks, one ace).

“The plan is always to try to keep all the hitters involved and with our passing being so good today, I had great options to choose from pretty much the entire time,” said setter Bojana Drca, who scored four points (two kills, one block, one ace). “We prepared really well for this match and I think we played great. It was a tough match, but we were able to show our best game. I hope it continues this way and we can win a medal.”


Drca sets Stevanovic at the net

On the American side, head coach Karch Kiraly didn’t use outside hitter Alexandra ‘Ali’ Frantti and middle blocker Chiaka Ogbogu, two of the team’s key players in their first matches. On the other hand, setter Jordyn Poulter returned to the court after missing the duels with Bulgaria and Germany due to injury.

In a match in which nine different players scored for the Americans, outside hitter Kara Bajema, with six (all in kills), opposite Annie Drews and middle blocker Haleigh Washington, with five each (four kills, one ace), were the team’s top scorers.


In her first start at the World Championship, Bajema led the American offence with six points

The other four Pool C teams also completed their pool play on Saturday in Lodz, with Bulgaria topping Kazakhstan in three sets (25-18, 25-22, 25-18) and Canada prevailing over Germany in the tie-breaker (12-25, 24-26, 25-23, 25-18, 15-9). Canada, with three wins and eight points, and Germany, with two wins and seven points, will also move forward to the next round.

The four teams coming from Pool C will be placed in Pool F in the second phase, where they will join the four sides that qualified from Pool B – Thailand, the Dominican Republic, Poland and Türkiye. The pool will be based in Lodz and matches will start on Tuesday.