Kraljevo, Serbia, May 30, 2018 - Brankica Mihajlovic produced a powerful display as Serbia continued its hot streak to breeze past Belgium 3-0 (25-20, 25-16, 25-13) in the 2018 FIVB Volleyball Nations League action on Wednesday night.
Brankica Mihajlovic was the star of the evening, claiming 14 kills (out of 25 attempts), one ace and one block to cap off a stunning performance for the 27-year-old.
The JT Marvelous spiker had a good game but it was a team performance as Bojana Milenkovic (13 points) and Stefana Veljkovic (10 points) all reached double digits.
Celine Van Gestel compiled nine points, including an ace, but a Belgium team that never really troubled the European champs.
Serbia hosted Belgium needing a win to keep them in the leading group of teams at the 2018 FIVB Volleyball Nations League. The Balkan side had beaten Belgium in all three previous encounters at world competitions, with Belgium registering their only win in the bronze medal match of the 2013 European Championship.
As expected, the home side started strong, racing to an early 2-0 lead. Having lost 3-0 to Turkey on Friday, and with just two wins before, Belgium hit back superbly but Brankica Mihajlovic stepped up to increase the Serbian lead even further (16-11). Belgium, ranked just 13th in the world, fought tooth and nails but were no match for the Balkan powerhouse which smoothly claimed the first set after another Mihajlovic spike (25-20).
Serbia were a little sluggish in the opening set with Belgium making a real nuisance of themselves but Bojana Milenkovic did her job as a blocker as she edged Serbia in front (7-5). With the wind in their sails, the Serbs seemed unstoppable as they raced ahead, following another impressive display from the Balkan block (13-8). Back to back points for Belgium kept the suspense alive at the business end of the set but Bojana Zivkovic took over for Serbia (25-16).
Serbia kept the momentum off the back of Brankica Mihajlovic's thunderous spikes (9-4). The difference between both teams, between a team that claimed a silver medal at the 2016 Rio Olympics and one that never qualified for the Games, was just too big and experience prevailed as Serbia led 16-6, following a Bojana Milenkovic ace (16-6). The Serbs dominated so much they took the liberty of resting their usuals starters: no matter what, Bojana Milenkovic piled on the pressure as Belgium was unable to deny the unevitable (25-13).