China remains flawless, Thailand succumb to Russia

The Chinese women’s volleyball team was the lone bright spot for Asian volleyball in Day Two of the FIVB Women’s World Championship 2018 as they dominated Turkey in straight sets, 25-18, 25-23, 25-23. They have yet to drop a set in two games. But while China remains unscathed in two matches, one can argue that this is a game that Turkey lost more than China won.

While both teams had 42 spikes apiece and China having a 9-7 advantage in blocks, everything else went to Turkey’s favor. Receptions are a huge 26-9 edge while sets are to the tune of the Turks, 13-10. Excellent digs are at an equal 26. However, Turkey’s 24 errors compared to China’s nine is a glaring indicator. Mind you that the Chinese won the match by a total of nine points. If only the Turkish players minimized their mistakes, the game could have gone to their favor.

Regardless of stats, a win is a win for coach Lang Ping. They are now tied with Italy for the lead in Pool B but have a slightly less points ratio at 1.327 as compared to 1.442 for Italy. Team captain Zhu Ting led the Chinese over Turkey with 16 points (15 spikes, one block) while Zhang Changning had 12 (nine spikes, three blocks). Yuan Xinyue and Yan Ni had seven markers apiece while Gong Xiangyu tallied six. Ding Xia and Zeng Chunlei had two and one point, respectively.

Opposite spiker Ebrar Karakurt led the Turkish with 16 while Meliha Ismailoglu and Eda Erdem Dundar had eight points each. Turkey will face Bulgaria in their next game while China will try to maintain their winning streak against Canada.

South Korea loses to Azerbaijan

Azerbaijan banked on their service game to hand South Korea its second straight loss. Captain Odina Aliyeva started the service attack that left the South Korean defense unsettled to win the first set, 25-18. Azerbaijan also dominated the second set, 17-8, until the South Koreans mounted a comeback using improved blocking. Ultimately, Azerbaijan had a two-set advantage by winning the set with an exactly identical score line.

The Koreans were able to deal with Azerbaijan’s serve in the third set courtesy of libero Kim Hae Ran’s quick reactions that enabled Park Jeongah and team captain Kim Yeonkoung to score and pull within one set of their opponent, 25-23. Azerbaijan did not want to go five sets and they relied on Jana Kulan and Olena Hasanova to clinch a win in the fourth set, 25-18. Polina Rahimova made the game-winning spike for the squad of coach Faig Garayev and showed her prowess by tallying 24 points (20 spikes, three aces, one block).

Kulan supported in scoring with 18 (16 spikes, one block, one ace) while Odina Aliyeva collected 16 points (13 spikes, two aces, one block). Hasanova added 11 while Aynur Imanova and Kyrstsina Yagubova had eight and one point respectively. Jeongah Park paced the South Koreans with 20 points (18 spikes, one block, one steal) and Yeon Koung Kim contributed 19. Park Eunjin and Kim Su Ji posted nine points each while Lee Jaeyeong had seven.

Kazakhstan loses to Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico was just too quick and powerful for Kazakhstan. Their efficient execution of option plays gave them a 47-28 advantage in spikes. Puerto Rico’s service game also clicked to gain a 9-1 edge in aces. Their defense is also working well with leads in excellent digs, 52-41, and excellent sets, 54-44. Kazakhstan’s troubles in receiving service allowed Puerto Rico to dominate in the second set, 25-15, after narrowly getting the first, 25-21. Diana Reyes and Stephanie Enright led Puerto Rico to complete the sweep in the third, 25-22.

Enright and Daly Santana led the Puerto Ricans in scoring with 16 points apiece while Karina Ocasio grabbed 13. Reyes, Neira Ortiz, and Natalia Valentin contributed with eight, five, and four points, respectively. No Kazakh player reached double digits in scoring as Sana Anarkulova led with only eight points. Yekaterina Zhdanova and Yana Petrenko had seven points each.

Thailand succumbs to Russia

Thailand responded mightily in their challenge against Russia using quick counter-attacks that enabled them to win the first (25-21) and the second (25-17) sets. Pimpichaya Kokram and Ajcharapon Kongyot were able to find holes in the Russian resistance to bring Thailand to within one set of a victory. However, Russia regrouped starting in the third set to intensify their net defense. Russia’s service game also clicked to gain favor the last three sets: 25-13, 25-21, 15-9.

By the end of the match, Russia led in total spikes (68-58) and kill blocks (15-10). Service aces went to Thailand’s favor, 5-3. After a 25-point performance against South Korea, Kokram continued to impress with her 20 points (all spikes) against the fifth-best team in the world. Meanwhile, Kongyot backed up with 18 (all spikes) while team captain Pleumjit Thinkaow added 12 (eight spikes, four blocks). Malika Kanthong connected on nine points while Thatdao Nuekjang collected seven markers. Rounding up the scoring are Onuma Sittirak and Pornpun Guedpard with five and two, respectively.

Nataliya Goncharova pounded the Thais to submission with 29 points (27 spikes, one block, one ace) and Irina Koroleva supported her with 17. Kseniia Parubets and Irina Voronkova tallied 16 and 13 markers, respectively. Irina Fetisova had nine and Evgeniya Startseva made nine and two points.

Japan falls short against Netherlands

The Japanese volleyball team failed to seal the deal as they fell to the Netherlands in five sets. The squad of coach Kumi Nakada led by the second technical timeout, 16-10, but the Dutch stole the set, 27-25, courtesy of Yvon Belien and Lonneke Sloetjes’ timely scores. Japan made sure that there will be no collapse as they take the second set, 25-16. The Netherlands took the tightly-contested third set, 28-26, before Japan forced a fifth set as they dominate in the fourth, 25-19. The hosts fell short of taking the fifth set as Celeste Plak connected on a spike to make the final count 15-13.

Anne Buijs led the Netherlands in scoring with 21 while Sloetjes had 20. Belien got 17 markers while team captain Maret Balkestein-Grothues made ten. Plak tallied eight while Juliet Lohuis and Nicole Koolhaas contributed five and two points, respectively. On the other hand, Ai Kurogo topped Japan with 25 points and Sarina Koga had 23. Risa Shinnabe made 14 while Erika Araki scored 13. Mai Okumura helped with nine markers while Kanami Tashiro posted six points.

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