United States roll to 2-0 start in Women’s World Cup
The United States defeated Serbia in four sets to earn their second victory in the 2019 FIVB Volleyball World Cup
Back-to-back Volleyball Nations League champions USA faced reigning world and European champions Serbia in Hamamatsu, where the opening set got off to a tight start as both sides went on an intense exchange of points until it reached the deadlock at 19-all. Serbia earned its break after an unsuccessful challenge by USA that awarded a point for them, starting a small run. USA tried to fight back, but Katarina Lazovic’s spike gave Serbia the first set win at 25-23.
Karsta Lowe saw action as a starter, replacing Annie Drews in the second set, where the strong opposite hitter provided her side with some strong kills to give USA a good offensive rhythm. Haleigh Washington helped USA build a bigger lead as she served with pressure against their opponents, who struggled to put up the first ball. They doubled their lead at 18-9 as the entire USA unit contributed on the attack and block, but Serbia made another comeback led by Ana Bjelica, but Lowe was there to stop the run by delivering the final blow to secure the second set at 25-17.
“It took us a little bit to get our groove but once we found it, we made some adjustments in blocking, mainly, we kind of hit our stride. We brought good energy and stayed consistent throughout,” Lowe said. “I wasn’t on the court in the first set, but we responded really well after that.”
USA played with a consistent pace in the next two sets, as Jordyn Poulter’s brilliant playmaking skills stood out, skilfully running the offence and involving each teammate in the plays, while the Serbians continued to struggle. With great advantage on spikes and blocks, the North American side secured their second win with victories in the third and fourth sets at 25-16 and 25-15, respectively.
“I’m proud of how we came out and try to attack against them. From the start we started struggling a little bit on the out-of-system block but as the match went on, our line-ups were good and we served them some balls and made it helpful for the defence around us and everyone could play a little bit more loose,” Poulter said.
“We’re in charge of running the offence and we try to make sure that we put our hitters in the best situation as much as possible and be successful. So the better we can do that for our attackers, then the easier it is for our team to succeed.”
Meanwhile, the Netherlands also recorded their second win in Hamamatsu, following their 3-0 (25-12, 25-19, 25-17) stunner against. Dutch captain Maret Balkestein provided the offensive firepower for her side with 11 points built from 10 attacks and an ace, while Kenyan captain Mercy Moim made nine points on a losing effort.
The Brazilians ended the day with a 3-0 (25-17, 25-19, 25-16) triumph against their South American rivals Argentina. Brazil were defence-oriented as they scored 17 blocks to earn their second victory. Gabi Guimaraes led the Brazilian team with 18 points, then Amanda Francisco and Lorenne Geraldo Teixeira contributed to the win with 11 and 10 points, respectively.
The main header in Yokohama featured the host team going up against Russia. In this fixture, the visiting side edged Japan 3-2 (25-11, 23-25, 25-27, 25-19, 15-7) to keep their winning start in the competition.
The high-scoring match was a tough one for the hosts after taking a 2-1 set-lead against Russia, as they conceded the last two frames to the latter, which drilled 73 attacks and mounted 17 blocks.
In the end, the Russian players showed better scoring performances, led by Nataliya Goncharova who exploded for 31 points. Irina Koroleva had 21 markers and Irina Voronkova and Kseniia Parubets each had 15 points, while Japan only had two double-digit scorers – Yukii Ishii (27) and Mayu Ishikawa (20).
In other matches, China still looked sharp, even without their main player Zhu Ting in the line-up against Cameroon. The Asian side recorded a (25-18, 25-14, 25-19) sweep, which was spearheaded by up-and-coming star Li Yingying who delivered a solid performance with 22 points.
The Dominican Republic recovered from their opening day loss to Japan, as they defeated Korea 3-1 (25-17, 24-26, 25-23, 25-23). Brayelin Elizabeth Martinez topped all scorers with 27 markers – all coming from the attack line, while her teammate Bethania De La Cruz added 19 points.
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