Apeldoorn, Netherlands, May 30, 2018 - Lonneke Sloetjes was the Dutch hero as the Netherlands continued their hot streak in the FIVB women's Nations League with a sensational straight-sets victory (25-18, 25-10, 25-12) over South Korea in front of another big home crowd in Apeldoorn.
The Dutch rotated their vast squad with the likes of Celeste Plak, Yvon Belien, Maret Balkestein and libero Kirsten Knip all rested, but they produced one of the finest performances in this inaugural tournament as they completely outclassed a South Korean side who had no answer to the hosts' quality. The Netherlands now have 7 victories from 8 matches to keep themselves right in the mix at the top of the table, and this was a night when whatever they touched turned to gold.
The Netherlands drafted in Anne Buijs, Laura Dijkema, Nika Daalderop, Tessa Polder and the new libero Myrthe Schoot, and they simply had too much inventiveness and verve with their sets often perfect for their finishers to exploit. Top-scorer Sloetjes, who hit 16 against Poland on Tuesday, landed the same amount on Wednesday with Anne Buijs chipping in with 10 points as the Netherlands' 2 main poachers had a field day. Dijkema and Daalderop were also outstanding in a classy Dutch team that will go into Thursday's titanic Pool-9 clash against Brazil in extremely confident mood.
South Korea, who took a set off Brazil on Tuesday, were way off the pace as they attempted elaborate shots to make up for their lack of raw power. Jeongah Park top-scored with 7 points while Heejin Kim and Sohwi Kang - both so threatening against Brazil - were kept quiet. Jaeyeong Lee provided some nice touches, but this is a 3rd straight defeat for Cha Hae-won's girls who need to beat Poland on Thursday to stay in contention for the Final Round after slipping to 4 & 4.
The Dutch started quickly, just as they did against Poland inside the Omnisport Apeldoorn on Tuesday, and they were soon into a 4-0 lead. But then came a Korean fightback with Eunjin Park bringing it back to 6-5 before Polder edged the hosts 2 points in front at the first technical timeout. But with Jaeyeong Lee leading the charge, the visitors found themselves 12-11 in front, but that only proved to be the catalyst for a Dutch onslaught. Regaining their poise and executing points brilliantly, Buijs and Sloetjes were proving too hot to handle with both landing some powerful spikes, and it was the latter who rounded out a scintillating run of Dutch points as the hosts took the set 25-18.
In the first-ever meeting between the teams on Dutch soil, it was Jamie Morrison's hosts who were superior in every department in the 2nd set. Buijs and Sloetjes were at it again as the Dutch raced into a 4-0 lead, and with the Koreans unable to handle the hosts' exquisite serving, this was looking like a procession towards victory. The unsung Nicole Koolhaas made it 8-1 at the break and that lead was out to 11 by the 2nd technical timeout with the Dutch playing some magnificent volleyball. The irrepressible Sloetjes' inch-perfect cross-court spike made it 20-7 and they swiftly blew South Korea away to grab the set 25-10 and take a 2-0 lead within 50 minutes.
The South Koreans haven't beaten the Netherlands since the 2002 World Championships and they'll have to wait to end that hoodoo after this showing. The Dutch continued their faultless serving display with Koolhaas at the base, and they quickly established a 5-2 lead with the visitors looking a beaten side. Setter Dijkema and libero Schoot were bossing things for the Dutch and they still had the power out wide with Sloetjes finishing off another fluid move to make it 7-2. Plak - who was thrown on in set 2 - provided a brilliant ace to make it 11-3 as the hosts continued to motor towards victory. Plak's delicate spike made it 20-10 and the Dutch wrapped up another stunning set 25-12 to canter to a 4th straight victory over South Korea in only 1 hour and 17 minutes. It was a ruthless display full of style and power and sets up that mouthwatering clash against Brazil with both sides 7 & 1.