by Simon Daish
Favourites to get the job done heading into play, Russia finished at the summit of Group 1 ahead of Turkey and Lithuania. Polina Mikhailova, Olga Vorobeva and Yana Noskova led Russia to back-to-back 3-0 victories to ensure the country’s presence in Nantes this September.
Over in Group 2 it was Spain who emerged in first position with the trio of Galia Dvorak, Maria Xiao and Zhang Xuan guiding the team to 3-0 successes against Belgium and England.
Serbia negotiated its two Group 3 encounters in impressive style, claiming a convincing 3-0 win away to Italy before going on to produce another commanding performance at home to beat Estonia by the same margin. Topping Group 4 is the Slovak Republic after posting victories over Switzerland and Greece while Group 5 was won by Bulgaria.
Turkey, Belgium, Italy, Greece and Slovenia also qualify from Stage 2 as group runners-up.
Just as a reminder, the teams to advance from Stage 1 were: Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Croatia, Sweden, Belarus, Hungary, Czech Republic, Portugal, Austria, Ukraine and Poland. Reigning champions Romania and hosts France will also compete in Nantes.