Herbots stars again as Belgium edge Dominican Republic in thriller

 

Ningbo, China, May 17, 2018 - Belgium teenager Britt Herbots summoned up every ounce of energy she had left to deliver another superb attacking performance and lead her team to a pressure-packed 3-2 (25-16, 18-25, 25-18, 19-25, 15-7) victory over the Dominican Republic on the third day of the inaugural women's FIVB Volleyball Nations League on Thursday.


The 18-year-old Herbots showed no signs of tiring as the epic match ticked past two hours in duration as she racked up a game high 26 points and the Europeans rebounded from their straight-sets loss to China on Wednesday to claim their second win in Pool 2 after beating Korea 3-0 on Tuesday.

Wing spiker Celine Van Gestel and opposite spiker Kaja Grobelna each finished with 14 points while Marlies Janssens led the defence with four blocks in her eight points as Belgium withstood a fierce comeback from the never-say-die Dominican Republic, who endured the agony of two successive five-set defeats.

Dominican Republic finished the pool with three losses but might have had two wins had fortune gone their way. Outclassed by China, they suffered an exhausting and heart-breaking 3-2 defeat to Korea on Wednesday before coming so close against the fresher Belgians on Thursday.

Brayelin Martinez, who racked up 31 points in the loss to Korea, once again spearheaded the Dominican Republic challenge, finishing on 15 points, tied with Jeoselyna Rodriguez Santos, who came on as a substitute after the first set and made a huge impact.

The opening set gave few clues of the unfolding drama that was to follow as the Yellow Tigers raced to a 1-0 lead after just 24 minutes.
The Dominican Republic won the second but looked to be tiring after losing the third but defied their aching bodies by winning the fourth set to force a decider.

The Caribbeans took the early lead before Herbots stepped in and took control. She made her first successful block of the match to put her team 8-6 in front then followed up with her 23rd spike to put her team in sight of the victory.

Belgium travel to Toyota next week for Pool 5 matches against the host-nation Japan as well as the Netherlands and USA while Dominican Republic will head to Ankara to play in Pool 8 alongside hosts Turkey as well as Argentina and Brazil.