Sitting volleyball will have a new women’s world champion after USA and Russia* qualified for the final. Paralympic champions USA beat surprise semi-finalists Italy while Russia knocked out title-holders China in straight sets on a dramatic Friday (20 July) in the Netherlands.
USA will be hoping to make it third time lucky on Saturday after losing the last two finals to China while Russia, the reigning European champions, have reached the final for the first time. Both sides have now also qualified for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.
A US win would see them make history as the first women’s team to hold both the Paralympic and world titles at the same time. They will be the favourites going into Saturday’s final, with two silver medals from the previous two World Championships (2010 and 2014). Russia’s best finish was bronze in 2014, and they also lost in straight sets to the US team in this year’s pool stages.
Brazil chase best finish
In the classification matches, the 2014 World Championship play-off for fifth will be repeated in Rotterdam after Ukraine beat Netherlands to confirm a date on Saturday with Brazil, who beat Canada.
If Brazil win the play-off, it will be their best finish at a Worlds, while Canada are already guaranteed to record their best result despite the defeat, besting their 12th place from 2010.
Positions nine to 16 have already been determined. Iran beat Japan in the last match of the day to finish ninth, one place off their best results of eighth in 2000 and 2002.
Rwanda clinched an impressive 11th place finish on their World Championship debut after beating Finland in straight sets while Slovenia beat debutants Hungary to claim 13th place in the tournament.
Egypt won the battle of the debutants against Croatia to claim 15th place.
The men’s tournament resumes on Saturday (21 July) in The Hague with semi-finals and classification matches before the finals take place on Sunday.
Full results and more information can be found on World ParaVolley’s website.
*Editor's note: The International Paralympic Committee suspended the Russian Paralympic Committee on 7 August 2016 for its inability to fulfil its IPC membership responsibilities and obligations, in particular its obligation to comply with the IPC Anti-Doping Code and the World Anti-Doping Code (to which it is also a signatory). As a result of the suspension, Russian athletes cannot enter IPC sanctioned events or competitions, including the Paralympic Games.