The Serbians remain on pace to defend their 2018 world title

Reigning champions Serbia remain on course to defend their 2018 title at the 2022 FIVB Volleyball Women’s World Championship after they progressed from the quarterfinal round in Gliwice, Poland, on Tuesday.

The team coached by Daniele Santarelli survived a thrilling five-set (21-25, 25-21, 25-19, 24-26, 16-14) battle with hosts Poland in front of nearly 10,000 loud and passionate local fans to advance to the semifinals.

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

Serbia will now face reigning Olympic champions the United States in the semifinals. The duel will be played on Wednesday, at 20.30 local time (18.30 GMT), in Gliwice. The second semifinal, set to take place in Apeldoorn, the Netherlands, on Thursday, will reunite Italy and Brazil.

With the victory, Serbia become the only team in international women’s volleyball to make it to the semifinals of the four biggest tournaments played over the last six years – they won gold at the 2018 World Championship, silver at the Rio 2016 Olympics and bronze at last year’s Tokyo Games.

Star opposites Tijana Boskovic and Magdalena Stysiak featured in an incredible scoring battle in their quarterfinal duel. If the Pole left the court with 40 points (34 kills, three blocks, three aces), the Serbian, who tallied 36 (34 kills, one block, one ace), was the one to have a smile on her face as her team moved on.

“It was an incredible match,” Boskovic reacted. “I want to congratulate Poland for such a great tournament and for being amazing opponents today. The fans were all against us, but we really enjoyed playing in this atmosphere. We want to be in the final again and we knew we’d have to play our best until the last point. Even when they were ahead in the tie-breaker, we were never going to stop. It’s a really demanding tournament and we’ll be back on the court tomorrow for the semifinals, but I’m sure we’ll find the energy to do it.”


Boskovic challenges the Polish block

Besides Boskovic, Serbia also got good production from outside hitter Brankica Mihajlovic, who registered 15 points (12 kills, three blocks), and middle blocker Jovana Stevanovic, who tallied 12, with seven kills, four blocks and the game-winning ace.

For Poland, outside hitter Olivia Rozanski, who ended the match with 11 points (nine kills, one block, one ace), was the only player besides Stysiak to score in double digits. Middle blocker Kamila Witkowska produced nine points (four kills, five blocks).


Stysiak became just the second player to score 40 points in a match at this year's World Championship

Poland’s Agnieszka Korneluk scored the first two points of the match with a kill and a block but Serbia reacted immediately and took the lead at 6-5 with a block from Mihajlovic. The Serbian lead improved to three points at 14-11 when Stevanovic tallied a kill and a block, but the Poles scored three in a row, the last with Stysiak, to even the score. The Poles slipped away to build a 21-19 lead following two errors from Boskovic and remained in control until the end, when Rozanski blocked Stevanovic to score 25-21.

Serbia started the second set on a better rhythm and quickly scored 4-0 with a kill from Boskovic. The reigning world champions kept pushing and remained ahead at 11-5 when Stysiak hit into the net. The home team fought back and was able to cut the lead to three points at 15-12, but the Serbians scored three in a row and remained steady until the end, stopping a Pole late surge to take the set 25-21 with a kill from Boskovic.

The start of the third set had a good balance between the teams until Mihajlovic blocked Stysiak and Serbia got a 10-6 lead. Poland fought right back and scored three in a row, but had to wait until the 13th point to tie the score with a kill from Stysiak. The Pole opposite spiked out to give the Serbians a two-point lead at 20-18 and they went on to score five of the next six points to win the set 25-19.

The start of the fourth set had a lot of back and forth and Serbia were only able to secure a two-point lead at 9-7 when Bianka Busa tooled the Polish block. The advantage quickly improved to four points when Stevanovic blocked Rozanski to score 12-8, but the Poles immediately cut it down to a single point at 12-11 with Stysiak. The Serbians then had a good run and back-to-back blocks from Stevanovic and Mihajlovic created a good separation at 17-12. Let by Stysiak, the Poles made an incredible comeback, outscoring the world champions by 14 points to seven in the final portion of the set to take it 26-24 and force a fifth set.

An error from Boskovic gave the Poles their first lead in the tie-breaker at 4-3. After some lead changes, Poland were finally able to go up by two with Stysiak blocking an overset at 9-7, but an offensive error from Klaudia Alagierska-Szczepaniak brought the teams even at ten points. Boskovic scored in transition to place the Serbians ahead at 12-11, forcing Poland to make a timeout call. The break proved successful as Stysiak scored twice with a kill and an ace to move the Poles up at 13-12. The Serbians then scored back-to-back points and, in their second match point, ended the match 16-14 with an ace from Stevanovic.