We’ve finally seen all teams play in the Montreux Masters 2019. However, Germany and Poland fought to mixed results. Meanwhile, one Asian squad is reigning supreme in their pool.
1) Thailand on a roll
Say all you want about the Thais defeating Italy’s “Team B”. They still fought hard to take the victory over the defending champions in Day 1. In Day Two, they did the same against the home team. Thailand had the clear advantage in sets two and four while edging the Swiss in the opening frame, 26-24.
As expected, Switzerland had the edge in blocks, 11-8. But their 12-3 advantage in aces was surprising. However, Nootsara Tomkom’s command of Thailand’s offense enabled her to execute 37 great sets which led to 44 attack points. Twenty-one of those came from Onuma Sittirak and Chatchu-on Moksri combined.
Thailand will have a one-day rest before closing pool play against a tall Turkey unit. Speed will be their advantage coming into that match. Otherwise, their hopes of sweeping Pool B is at risk.
2) China relaxed and almost got eliminated
The Chinese must have taken it easy after winning the second set against Germany, 25-9. But they were shocked as Germany brought the game to the distance. Louisa Lippmann willed her squad to force a decider by taking set three, 26-24, and set four, 25-22.
However, China regained its composure in the fifth set. But if not for their 15-9 victory in the final frame, they could have been out of medal contention. Coach An Jiajie’s team should guard against complacency when they face a balanced Poland team.
The Chinese should look no further than the four-set victory of their opponents against Japan. If they don’t focus on this match, the classification phase will be the best they can do.
3) The Polish block party
The Japanese can’t solve Poland’s net defense a day after defeating Asian rivals China. That’s why Coach Jacek Nawrocki’s wards completed 18 stuff blocks in their four-set victory. Eight of those came from team captain Agnieszka Kakowleska which is more than Japan’s team total.
Poland had Japan’s number in their Montreux Masters 2019 debut. Yuki Ishii needed 30 attempts to get 10 attack points while Yuka Imamura spiked the ball 40 times to come up with 12. However, Japan did have more attack points, 51-46. But that was negated by Poland’s 5-1 advantage in aces and four less errors than Japan’s 25.
4) Li Yingying is next in line for China
Zhu Ting and Liu Xiaotong are the best hitters from China as of present. But Li Yingying is proving to be a worthy heir apparent with her stellar play in this competition. The 19-year-old led her squad with 25 points in their four set loss to Japan. She followed that up with 18 against the Germans.
Zhu is 24 years old while Liu is 29. With Li on the fold, they will terrorize a lot of opponents in future international competitions. However, there’s still room for improvement with her speed, footwork, and movement during attacks. If she can improve on those, her potential will be limitless.
5) Can’t seal our lips on Lippmann’s talent
She was the main reason why China had a hard time closing out Germany. The 24-year-old opposite spiker from Herford made 26 attacks, two blocks, and an ace to keep her team in the game. Sadly, she didn’t have enough to carry the Germans over the defending Olympic champions.
Likewise, her 55 spike attempts were too much considering that Hanna Orthmann had the second most with only 22. But there’s no denying the fact that her 29 total points allowed Germany to stand their ground against their favored opponent. However, Poland will put up a formidable challenge to her offense. It would be interesting to see which side will prevail.