China’s star captain Zhu Ting shows good shape in 3-0 win over Japan
Lausanne, Switzerland, June 5, 2019 – After a shaky start, losing their first two games of the season, China have now piled up five wins in a row, and as they face the Netherlands on Wednesday, they hope to add their sixth consecutive victory to their 2019 FIVB Volleyball Nations League record. The hosts of this week’s Pool 9 and of the VNL finals in July are set to meet the Dutch at 20:30 local time at the Hong Kong Coliseum.
The two teams started their Hong Kong campaigns with different success. While the Netherlands lost to Italy in four sets to drop to a 2-5 win-loss record, China improved to 5-2 after shutting out Asian rivals Japan with Zhu Ting top-scoring 18 points. The all-time head-to-head record at major world-level competitions is also in favour of the Chinese – they have won 23 of their encounters with the Dutch. In last year’s VNL, the Netherlands defeated China by 3-1 in the preliminary round, but lost by the same score at the finals. In Wednesday’s game, the home team will have to be careful in reception, as the opponents have two players, Nicole Oude Luttikhuis (14 aces) and Juliet Lohuis (11 aces), in the top six of the best servers ranking.
"Given our players are tall, we need to improve in agility and speed of movement,” China’s coach Lang Ping commented.
"Our very young team is trying to get used to the fast pace and face adversities during the match. We will continue to improve," said Netherlands' coach Jamie Morrison.
In the earlier game in Hong Kong, starting at 17:30, Japan (on a 4-3 win-loss record) will challenge Italy (6-1), whose Indre Sorokaite hammered out seven aces for a total of 24 points against the Netherlands on Tuesday, to stand third in the best scorers and second in the best servers charts of the competition.
On Tuesday, Germany delivered a 3-2 upset of Brazil to celebrate their second victory since the start of the season. Despite six aces from Brazil’s Ana Beatriz Correa, Louisa Lippmann was on fire on the other side of the net, scoring 29 times as Germany managed to come back from a set down twice in the match against the powerful opponent. In their attempt at back-to-back wins at the Pinnacle Bank Arena in Lincoln as they take on hosts USA at 19:30 local time, the Germans will have a strong weapon in the back court as well. Their libero Lenka Duerr is the best receiver and the second best digger of the VNL so far. However, it is hard to prepare for an encounter with the Americans this season as coach Karch Kiraly has been relying on a deep roster of well-performing players on the way to six wins in seven games and the second place in the VNL standings so far. In Tuesday’s four-set victory over Korea, he once again proved ready to surprise the opponent with a new line-up.
Brazil (4-3) and Korea (1-6) will play in the other Pool 10 match on Wednesday as they take to the court in Lincoln at 16:30.
The eighth competition day of the 2019 VNL will get underway at 15:05 local time in Bangkok, with an encounter between the current leaders in the standings, Turkey (6-1), and bottom-placed Bulgaria, who have yet to score their first win of their rookie season in the league. In their first Pool 11 match at the Huamark indoor stadium, the Turks downed the Dominican Republic in four sets, with Gozde Yilmaz putting away 22 points in just the first three sets of the game. Coach Giovanni Guidetti has the tournament’s best attacker, Ebrar Karakurt, and two of the top five blockers, Kubra Caliskan and Zehra Gunes, to dominate the net against the young squad of their southern European neighbours, while Bulgaria’s coach Ivan Petkov will have to look for ways to capitalize on the great defensive performance of Zhana Todorova, leader in the best diggers ranking, to change the course of his team’s debut campaign.
In Wednesday’s late game in Bangkok, at 18:05, the Dominican Republic (3-4), whose Brayelin Elizabeth Martinez is the second best scorer and the second best spiker of the VNL so far, will take on hosts Thailand (3-4), who made good use of Ajcharaporn Kongyot’s fantastic 30-point tally (including eight blocks and five aces) to take a 3-1 victory over Bulgaria on Tuesday.
"On Wednesday, we play against tall players again, so we will try to improve our serving to make it hard for them in reception," said Thailand’s Nootsara Tomkom, current leader of the best setters ranking.
"We need to learn from our many reception mistakes and try to improve our game,” Marcos Kwiek, coach of the Dominican Republic, pointed out. “It’s going to be a difficult match. We played five sets against Thailand the last three times, so we need to be prepared."
Whether or not Tuesday’s Pool 12 straight-set wins of Serbia over Poland and of Belgium over Russia in Kortrijk may be considered surprising is up for debate, but the only thing certain ahead of Wednesday’s games at the Lange Munte is that anything could happen. The young squad of Serbia (4-3) will try to further worsen the situation for Russia (1-6) as they meet at 17:15 local time. With an 18-point contribution from Katarina Lazovic, against 19 from VNL’s best scorer Malwina Smarzek, Serbia took out Poland in straight sets.
“We really want to play at the finals,” Lazovic said. “One of the strong points of our team is that we are young and motivated. We have a lot of fun on and off court.”
As Poland dropped to 5-2, they will look to recover against hosts Belgium (4-3) in the pool’s later game at 20:15. With 20 points from Britt Herbots, the Belgians pleased the home fans with a 3-0 win over Russia. In addition to the inspiration coming from the stands, they can rely on the tournament’s best server so far, Marlies Janssens, as a strong weapon against Smarzek and VNL’s top blocker Agnieszka Kakolewska, to continue their successful campaign.
"We have to look at our own game and I think we will be motivated to do better against Belgium,” said Poland’s libero Maria Stenzel. “We are going to help each other to play our best volleyball."
All VNL matches are available live and on-demand on Volleyball TV
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