Russia completed a stunning turnaround to offer the highlight, coming from two sets down to topple reigning champions the USA.
It was the first time this tournament that the world's number-two ranked side have justified their reputation, handing the USA their first defeat of the round-robin games in the process.
The difference proved to be on the spike. Russia found the floor 67 times compared to America's 49. Maxim Mikhaylov was responsible for 27 of their points and was well supported by Sergey Tetyukhin (21).
The tone for the day had been set earlier, when Italy dug deep for a comeback of their own, seeing off Australia 25-21, 25-18, 21-25, 14-25, 13-15.
Jon Uriarte's men took a two-set lead over the world number fours before running out of steam and letting them off the hook.
While ranked 22 themselves, a win for the Volleyroos would still have been considered an upset, but it was not to be as once Italy found their rhythm, Australia stopped finding the floor.
Michal Lasko stepped up to grab 25 points and Australia's big, powerful team simply tired under the weight of pressure.
Germany's turnaround in form continued at Earls Court in the morning as they swept Tunisia aside 3-0 to record a second successive win in Pool B.
Vital Heynen's men had looked to be out of the running for qualification when they lost their opening pair of games, before a thrilling five-set victory over Serbia on Thursday got them back in with a chance.
They backed that up with a 65-minute whitewash here, meaning they head into their final game against Brazil with every chance of progression.
Poland, meanwhile, turned on the style to beat Great Britain 3-0 as they justified the big expectations on their shoulders.
Argentina pulled out all the stops to end Bulgaria's unbeaten run, producing a shock four-set win.
The Europeans have been the surprise package of the competition so far - defeating favourites Poland on Tuesday - but they were undone tonight.
In the final game of the evening, Brazil beat Serbia 3-2.