Bozana Butigan of Croatia spikes high and Karla Ortiz of Peru is late on the block
Lima, Peru, June 26, 2019 – Argentina and Croatia were the first victors on the opening day of the 2019 FIVB Volleyball Challenger Cup beating Chinese Taipei and hosts Peru respectively in their quest to qualify for the 2020 women’s FIVB Volleyball Nations League.
Argentina started the day with a close Pool B victory over Chinese Tapei 3-0 (25-22, 25-22, 25-21), building on a sizeable 12-4 advantage in blocks (eight scored by Candelaria Herrara), but not before losing four match points.
Argentina used a balanced attack with three players scoring double figures, led by Lucia Fresco (16), and joined by Yamila Nizetich alongside Candelaria Herrara with 13 points apiece. Argentina scored on 19 unforced errors by their opponents, allowing 13 of their own.
On Chinese Taipei's side, Chen Tzu Ya and Li-Wen Chang scored 15 points and Li-Wen Chang contributed with 12 points.
"It was a difficult start for us, as every debut is. Chinese Taipei was fast, dynamic and with good defense, exasperating my players that needed some time to adjust," indicated head coach Hernan Ferraro of Argentina. "This was an encounter for a team who had a tough year, two players (Nizetich and Nina) came recently from Europe; they have a great game-level but we gave them some rest and now we need to work together as a team," he added.
Head coach of Chinese Taipei Koji Tsuzurabara was satisfied with his team's first performance, but was disappointed with the loss. “Our defence is our best weapon, but we are here to gain experience with a very young team, fight for every match like today but we had difficulties in blocking Argentina."
Croatia beat hosts Peru
Leading scorer Samanta Fabris with 24 points (five unstoppable aces included) helped Croatia recover to claim a four set victory 3-1 ( 25-23, 19-25, 25-17, 31-29) over the home team in pool A.
The second match on Wednesday finished with a spectacular overtime fourth set (31-29) with Croatia losing several match points against a tough Peruvian squad. Croatia’s roller-coaster victory included outperforming Peru in aces and blocks; handing out 23 unforced errors and scoring on 21 opponent errors.
Lucija Milnar joined in the winning campaign with 15 points and Karla Klaric added 13 points. Peru distributed their offence between captain Karla Ortiz with 18 points, Daniela Uribe with 15 and Clarivett Yllescas tallied 12.
Head coach Daniele Santarelli of Croatia believed the changes in the fourth set were crucial. "We weren’t performing that well so with some line-up variations we finished by winning." He also explained that the supporters did a good job in keeping his team unsettled. "It was not easy to perform here at this Coliseum, full of noisy supporters, the players needed to concentrate really well. My team did not play the best match, which needs to improve for the next match, but it was important to start by winning."
Croatia captain Samanta Fabris said it was important for everyone on her team to start with a win despite it not being the best volleyball they could show. "We had a lot of ups and downs, committing many unforced errors to improve on, our desire to win made the difference." About tomorrow’s European Golden League re-match against the Czech Republic she said: "Hopefully the outcome will be different, our team is very young but with discipline we can move ahead."