Rotterdam, Netherlands, June 6, 2018 - Tijana Boskovic's superb scoring run continued as Serbia put one foot in the FIVB women's Nations League Final Round after an emphatic straight-sets victory 3-0 (25-19, 25-20, 25-13) over Dominican Republic in Rotterdam.
Boskovic started the Pool 13 match with 178 VNL points, and she added 21 more thanks to a seismically powerful display which handed Serbia a 9th victory in 11 Nations League games as they stormed up to second - one point above Brazil - in the table. Apart from a slow start to the second set which saw Zoran Terzic's girls fall 8-4 behind by the first technical timeout, this was a statement of intent from a side who are now on the verge of sealing their place in the Final Round in China.
Dominican Republic are a side packed with talent, but too often they suffer from errors and a lack of communication when the going gets tough, and they didn't have enough nous or ingenuity to trouble a wonderful Serbian side who finished third in last year's World Grand Prix. The Queens of the Caribbean were outclassed as they suffered a 9th defeat in 11 VNL games to sit a lowly 13th in the table.
This was an engrossing encounter in a sparse Topsportcentrum venue in Rotterdam with Serbia pulling away to win the first set with a blistering run of points under the impeccable serving of Bojana Zivkovic. The Eastern Europeans had to battle hard though in the second, trailing by six points after Brayelin Martinez had put Dominican Republic 14-8 in front, but they roared back to level at 16-16 before taking the set. The third set was a procession towards victory - Serbia's fifth in succession against Marcos Kwiek's team - as the Balkan nation bounced back in style from Tuesday's 3-2 defeat to Italy.
Sumptuous Serbia send out a signal
Serbia were superior in every department against a Dominican Republic side who have only registered two victories during a disappointing VNL campaign.
Zoran Terzic's side combined extreme power through Boskovic's spikes with incredibly accurate serving - with both Zivkovic (first set) and Stefana Veljkovic (third set) outstanding - and they also had the creativity and panache with Bojana Milenkovic spraying passes and chipping in with 10 points as the favourites ran riot.
Boskovic not only provided power but also displayed finesse with some lovely touches to leave Dominican Republic players bewildered, but it was Serbia's serving that would've delighted Terzic with Veljkovic winning 4 points and Zivkovic 2 from their deliveries.
Another pleasing aspect for the head coach would've been Serbia's gritty response in the second set to trailing by six points - they took an incredible nine points from 11 on offer in the middle of the set to move 17-16 ahead, a crucial passage of the match that swung the momentum back in their favour.
Serbia then sealed the deal in rapid time, winning in just one hour and 24 minutes.
Queens of the Caribbean anything but royalty
Dominican Republic are a handy side, but error after error cost them dear, and there was simply no way back against a side as good as Serbia.
Marcos Kwiek's side haven't beaten Serbia since the 2011 World Cup, and they didn't look close to breaking that unwanted seven-year sequence.
Brayelin Martinez - who was only five points shy of Boskovic prior to this game in the VNL - was subdued throughout despite top scoring for her side with 10 points. She landed only nine spikes from 25 attempts in a messy display, while Yonkaira Pena Isabel - who notched eight spikes from 21 attempts - was also guilty of some glaring misses, most notably when handing Serbia that 17-16 lead in the second set.
The final nail in the Dominican Republic coffin came on match point when the Caribbeans fumbled the ball into the net in an attempt to keep the point alive, as they giftwrapped the eastern Europeans an easy win.
The big match awaits Serbia as they look to finish Week 4 with a 2-1 winning record; they host the Netherlands on Thursday.
It doesn't get any easier for Dominican Republic with a game against resurgent Italy, who are still eyeing qualification to the Final Round.
Tijana Boskovic has been one of the stars of the VNL and she had another electric match for Serbia: 21 points, including 20 spikes from 33 attempts and 1 block from 2 efforts.