Quarterfinal positions are up for grabs on day three following a positioning day at the XIV FINA Women’s Junior Water Polo World Championships in Netanya, Israel.

In the second day of three days of round play, teams shuffled in preparation for the all-important last chance to gain an excellent draw for either the quarterfinals or the preliminary round. For some their fate is assured, but in several groups the result is on a knife’s edge.

In the opening Group B match, Spain and Netherlands supplied plenty of tight-action excitement. Spain came back from two down in the final period to draw 5-5 in a match that yielded just the one goal in the first half.

The match was dominated by the goalkeepers and, fittingly, Dutch goalie Britt van den Dobbelsteen was awarded player of the match. Neither team could breech the defence in the first quarter and the first goal came off a quick cross pass on extra-man attack at 0:52 in the second period.

This led to an onslaught in the third with Spain levelling twice in action compared with Netherlands’ two penalty strikes. With two minutes until the final break, the Dutch were 3-2 ahead.

The imbalance kept favouring Netherlands into the final quarter when Lola Moolhuijzen ignited a rocket from eight metres. Spain pulled back one when Nona Perez finished an extra-man set play before Netherlands’ Nikki Meija played a deft lob from the left for 5-3. Olympian Elena Ruiz nailed a penalty at 1:39 and one minute later team-mate Elena Camarena squeezed one in from the deep left under the goalkeeper’s arm for the 5-5 score. Both teams went to a timeout with no further scoring, thus meaning countback will be needed to separate these teams on Tuesday night to see who has won the group.

Photos: Courtesy Gilad Kavalerchik

In the other Group B clash, France secured what should be third place, beating South Africa 14-7. The stronger France had sharper finishing, especially from outside, even though South Africa became bolder as the match went on. France’s Juliette Dhalluin top-scored with four goals and was named player of the match. Tamsyn Evezard and Lucy Miszweski scored twice each for South Africa.

Peru found the going tough early on against Serbia in their Group C encounter, losing 17-6. Serbia swatted Peru aside in the first quarter 7-0 before losing the second 2-1, drawing the third 2-2 and closing with 7-2 for the victory. Ana Milsevic led the scorers with five for Serbia and Lorena Campos netted three for Peru, including the last goal 10 seconds from the death.

In the other Group C match, host Israel virtually assured itself of a quarterfinal berth with a 17-6 victory over Argentina. Its second win was built on a 7-1 halftime lead and six goals from Maria Bogachenko. Argentina had six different scorers.

In Group D, Russia put paid to any Uzbekistan hopes of victory with a 28-6 effort that started with an 8-3 quarter, slowed to 14-3 at halftime and 20-4 at the final break. There were 14 different scorers in the match with Anastasia Panfilova and Yulia Lapteva firing in four each for Russia. Ugiloy Abdulkhaeva and captain Madinabonou Shermatova netted two each for Uzbekistan.

Hungary downed Brazil 15-3 for its second win and is looking good for the second half of the tournament. Hungary was 8-1 up at halftime and had the match in hand at 12-1 by the final break. Vanda Baksa blasted four goals for Hungary and Brazilian captain Leticia Belorio netted three.

Group A matches rounded out the day with Italy marching over Germany 20-1 and Greece dismissing a stubborn Slovakia 32-7. Italy’s firepower was centred on Dafne Bettini with six goals with Germany’s lone goal late in the second quarter coming from Sinia Plotz. Greek captain Maria Myriokefalitaki dominated centre forward with six goals while Slovakia’s resistance was typified by Monika Sedalakova’s four as Greece turned at 18-5 ahead.

Day three is all about who wins the groups and gains an automatic quarterfinal berth, thus avoiding the second round.

In Group A, Greece should easily defeat Germany to secure top slot while Italy will be too strong for Slovakia for second place.

In Group B, Netherlands and Spain should win their respective matches against France and South Africa, thus sending the officials to the tiebreaker rules to determine top of the group as they drew their Monday clash 5-5.

In Group C, Israel will have the better of Peru for group supremacy and a historic quarterfinal berth while Argentina and Serbia are both looking for a second win and second spot in the group.

In Group D, unbeaten Russia and Hungary will do battle for the quarterfinal slot and Brazil and Uzbekistan are shooting for their first win.

Day 2 match results:
Group A: Germany 1 Italy 20 (0-7, 1-5,  0-4, 0-4), Greece 32 Slovakia 7 (9-2, 9-3, 6-2, 8-0).
Group B: Spain 5 Netherlands 5 (0-0, 0-1, 2-2, 3-2), South Africa 7 France 14 (1-4, 3-4, 1-3, 2-3).
Group C: Peru 6 Serbia 17 (0-7, 2-1, 2-2, 2-7), Israel 17 Argentina 6 (3-0, 4-1, 5-3, 5-2).
Group D: Uzbekistan 6 Russia 28 (3-8, 0-6, 1-6, 2-8), Brazil 3 Hungary 15 (0-3, 1-5, 0-4, 2-3).

Progress points:
Group A: Greece 4, Italy 2, Germany 2, Slovakia 0.
Group B: Netherlands 3, Spain 3, France 2, South Africa 0.
Group C: Israel 4, Argentina 2, Serbia 2, Peru 0.
Group D: Russia 4, Hungary 4, Brazil 0, Uzbekistan 0.

Full results can be accessed at: https://www.fina.org/competitions/1141/fina-world-women-s-junior-waterpolo-championships-2021/results?event=30d346ac-cdff-4278-9572-fbc2b0d31953 and all matches are streamed on the FINA Youtube channel.