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10/08/2019 23:50
Poland one set away from punching ticket to Tokyo 2020
News from the FIVB

Luxembourg, August 10, 2019. Poland took a huge step towards a ticket to the men’s Volleyball tournament of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games Saturday afternoon in Gdansk when they shut out France 3-0 (25-21, 25-19, 25-20) in the deciding match of their pool, though all six Olympic tickets available this weekend remain unclaimed, ahead of Sunday’s closing day of the qualifiers.

Wilfredo Leon, in only his second official game for Poland, led the home side in their sweep of France in Gdansk, scoring a match-high 17 points as the hosts put up an impenetrable block that earned them 12 points (to France’s 5). Poland now need just one set on Sunday against Slovenia to celebrate their qualification to Tokyo 2020. Only if Slovenia beat Poland in straight sets can they (or France) hope for first place in the pool on a potential better set or point ratio.

Toncek Stern led Slovenia with 19 points and a 62% (18/29) attacking efficiency as they came from behind in the third set to shut out Tunisia 3-0 (25-23, 25-16, 26-24) in the other match of the day in Gdansk, leaving the Africans winless.

In Ningbo, Argentina are now just two sets away from a berth in Tokyo 2020, after their 3-1 (25-17, 18-25, 25-21, 26-24) win over Finland and in combination with China’s defeat to Canada 3-2 (24-26, 25-21, 25-17, 23-25, 17-15). China's loss means that the hosts now need a win for full points against Argentina on Sunday to advance, while the South Americans will be happy with just two sets. Canada are already out of contention after dropping a point.

Argentina were led by Bruno Lima who scored 13 points and Cristian Poglajen who added 11 more, though the match high belonged to Samuli Kaislasalo who scored 22 for Finland. The Finns never got a clear shot at forcing a tie-break - all they could do is just cancel a match point at 24-23 before Facundo Conte came to the rescue with an attack that sealed the game.

Russia v Iran for one ticket to Tokyo

In Saint Petersburg Russia and Iran go head-to-head on Sunday with the winner getting the coveted ticket to next year’s Olympic Games from their pool, after both remained undefeated with clear wins on Saturday. Iran beat Mexico 3-0 (25-18, 25-21, 27-25) and Russia had to concentrate on the crucial moments of the game, as they outplayed Cuba 3-0 (25-18, 26-24, 27-25). The hosts missed their first chance to finish the second set, but on their second try Ivan Iakovlev served an ace on Yohan Leon for the last point. The hosts were 22-17 ahead in the third set before Cuba closed in and even reached set point first with an ace by sub Leon (one of his total four in the game) on Victor Poletaev, but Russia rallied to finish the match in three. Dmitry Volkov and Jesus Herrera were joint top scorers of the game on 15 points each.