Day 1 recap – Thailand edge South Korea & Kazakhstan fall

Asian volleyball fans got an early treat in the FIVB Women’s World Championship 2018 as Pleumjit Thinkaow and Thailand edged Kim Yeonkoung and South Korea in their thrilling five-set encounter in Pool C play. The South Koreans got to a hot start by winning the first set, 25-18, but the squad of coach Danai Sriwatchamaytakul bounced back to grab the second, 25-22.

Thailand got the better of the opponents by the end of the third set to move closer to victory, 25-19. However, the squad of coach Cha Hae-won roared back to dominate the fourth, 25-13. But just like before, Thailand relied on battle-tested veterans Thinkaow, Nootsara Tomkom, and Wilavan Apinyapong to seal the victory and get two points, 15-11. South Korea gets one point despite the loss due to the match reaching five sets.

Pimpichaya Kokram led the Thais in scoring with 25 points (23 spikes, one block, one ace) while Onuma Sittirak followed with 18 (17 spikes, one ace). Thinkaow and Apinyapong had 11 (four spikes, three blocks, four aces) and nine (all spikes), respectively. Meanwhile, team captain Yeon Koung Kim led the South Koreans with 23 markers (21 spikes, one block, one ace) and Jeongah Park contributed 18 (all spikes).

While South Korea connected on more spikes (70-65), Thailand was able to negate the disadvantage by winning the service game, 8-2. However, the impeccable South Korean defense courtesy of Hyo Jin Yang and Su Ji Kim kept the game close as they got a 10-6 advantage in blocks while they also had more excellent digs, 44-37. However, Thailand held its own by dominating service receptions, 49-34. Thailand will be in for a challenge as they face Russia in their next game while South Korea will face gritty Azerbaijan.

Kazakhstan bows down to Kenya

Long-time African volleyball queens Kenya certainly have what it takes to defeat Kazakhstan. But the beatdown they gave is surprising given that the Kazakhs are no push-overs. Backed by a stellar performance by team captain Mercy Moim, Kenya defeated Kazakhstan in straight sets, 25-23, 25-22, 25-21. The narrow winning margins show that the game could have gone to the favor of coach Vyacheslav Sharpan.

However, the Kenyans used their quickness to achieve a slight advantage in blocks (11-7). Furthermore, excellent sets went to coach Japheth Bunali Munala’s team, 68-52, which translates to a whopping edge in scoring spikes, 48-33. Excellent digs are to Kenya’s favor too, 40-31. If not for Kenya’s 24 errors, the margin could be much bigger.

Moim led all scorers with 28 (25 spikes, three blocks) while Edith Mukuvilani had 11 (seven spikes, four blocks). On the other hand, Sana Anarkulova led Kazakhstan with 13 points while Yekaterina Zhdanova seconded with nine. The Kazakhs will play against Puerto Rico in their next game while Kenya will try to get its second straight win against Serbia.

China dominates Cuba

Cuba was once a powerhouse team in women’s volleyball, having won consecutive FIVB World Championships in 1994 and 1998 as well as three Olympic gold medals (1992, 1996, 2000) and four FIVB World Cups (1989, 1991, 1995, 1999). However, those days are long gone as the new queens of international, China, gave them a beating in straight sets, 25-12, 25-23, 25-14.

Yes, the second set was close. However, Chinese head coach Jenny Lang Ping decided to pull back by fielding reserves and yet they still won the set. It was total domination for China across all stats as they converted more spikes for scores, 41-37. The Chinese were also efficient by committing only five errors the entire game as compared to Cuba’s 13. Receptions also went to the world number one, 20-12. As a consolation, Cuba had more excellent digs, 27-23.

But the two most telling figures in this game are China’s supremacy in excellent sets and blocks. The Cubans only managed four excellent sets in three sets while China got 23. Blocks are no contest as well for China has a decisive 17-3 margin with Xinyue Yuan tallying seven by herself. Both Xiangyu Gong and Changning Zhang have match Cuba’s total production in this department alone. Two of Zhu Ting’s 16 total points were blocks while Li Yingying and Xia Ding had a kill block apiece.

Yuan Xinyue tied Ting Zhu’s total output of 16 while Gong Xiangyu and Yingying Li had nine and eight, respectively. Zhang Changning added seven. Meanwhile, Diaris Perez Ramos led Cuba with 13 markers (12 blocks, one ace) while Ailama Cese Montalvo added 12 (all spikes). Jessica Aguilera Carbajal and Laura Beatriz Suarez Hernandez are tied with seven points each. China will face Turkey next in Pool B while the squad of coach Tomas Fernandez Arteaga will go up against Bulgaria.

Japan lords over Argentina

The host team had the perfect start to their FIVB Women’s World Championship 2018 campaign in front of a frenzied home crowd by running over a listless Argentinian squad in straight sets. To show just how dominating this victory is for the squad of head coach Kumi Nakada, Argentina can only muster 25 total points in the last two sets with 13 in Set Two and 12 in the decisive Set Three. The first set is just a slight improvement as Japan won convincingly, 25-15.

The Japanese could have swept the advantage in all statistical categories if not for Argentina having a 61-57 edge in excellent sets. But given that defense is Japan’s trademark, excellent sets are nothing for they had more excellent digs (25-11) and receptions (15-12). Add to that the 19 errors that Argentina committed and you will have an idea how they lost the match.

All offensive stats went Japan’s way and in convincing fashion. They won the block battle, 6-3, and had eight service aces as compared to Argentina’s two. Spikes are no contest to Japan, 42-26. Sarina Koga led the Japanese attack with 15 points (14 spikes, one block) while Risa Shinnabe (seven spikes, three aces) and Ai Kurogo (seven spikes, two aces, one block) had ten markers apiece. Erika Araki and Miyu Nagaoka contributed eight and seven while Mai Okumura, Kanami Tashiro, and Koyomi Tominaga had three, two, and one point each.

No Argentine player reach double-figures but Elina Rodriguez led the way with seven. Emilce Sosa and Josefina Fernandez posted six points apiece while Julieta Lazcano only had four. The squad of coach Guillermo Orduna will face Mexico in their next match while Japan will try to keep its flawless record by competing against the Netherlands.

Other results – FIVB Women’s World Championship 2018

Cameroon wins over Mexico 3-1: 17-25, 25-23, 25-16, 25-21
Netherlands wins over Germany 3-1: 22-25, 25-21, 25-22, 32-30
Italy wins over Bulgaria 3-0: 25-15. 25-19, 25-22
Turkey wins over Canada 3-0: 25-18, 25-13, 25-15
Russia wins over Trinidad and Tobago 3-0: 25-21, 25-11, 25-12
USA wins over Azerbaijan 3-0: 29-27, 25-21, 25-21