Aix-en-Provence, France, June 9, 2018 - A scintillating performance from Aleksandar Atanasijevic helped Serbia claim their fifth consecutive win with a 3-0 victory over South Korea (25-17, 25-23, 25-19) in Saturday's action at the 2018 FIVB Nations League.
The opposite spiker ran the show with 17 points to keep his side in contention for a berth in Lille. Nikola Mijailovic and Milan Katic also made contributions, with 12 and 10 points each.
Seung-Suk Kwak was the standout player for Korea, bagging a total of 9 points, but couldn't prevent his side from losing an eigth straight game.
Having not lost to the Asians in four years, leading 8-1 in their head-to-head record, the Balkan side, widely considered one of the best at the moment, headed into the game as firm favourites, looking for their sixth overall win in the 2018 Nations League.
South Korea, still winless until now, started brightly, with the right amount of aggressivity and guile in offense to trouble the Serbs (6-8). Playing with plenty of freedom, the Asians try to remain on top off the back of Seung-Suk Kwak's spikes but experience prevailed and Serbia clawed back into the game (14-13). The Europeans got further away, increasing their lead to six thanks to Aleksandar Atanasijevic, and seemed unstoppable as Nikola Mijailovic wrapped it up (25-17).
After the tables turned brutally in the first set, Serbia had the wind in their sails as they raced to an early 5-2 lead. But the plucky Koreans held their ground and managed to remain within reach of the Balkan side, putting pressure on their shoulders as Sung-Min Moon shined (14-13). In a much tighter set, that could have gone either way, the Koreans made too many errors, allowing the Serbs and Milan Katic to claim another set after a mega rally of huge entertainment value (25-23).
It was more of the same in the third set with South Korea starting well but Serbia remaining on top (10-8). A vicious spike from Atanasijevic increased the Serbian lead despite a courageous display by the Asian minnows (15-11). All credit to the Koreans whose valiant performance in defense made the Serbs work real heard for each point. But, in the end, it just wasn't enough as Serbia ran away with it (25-19).