The United States broke the deadlock with Italy to remain on top of the FIVB Volleyball Nations League 2019 standings. However, the Italians remain undefeated with a four-set victory over the Dominican Republic at home. Despite those accomplishments, it’s the sensation from Poland who got the biggest headline in Day 4 of the VNL.
Smarzek on target
The Montreux Masters 2019 champions kept Bulgaria winless after four games. Coach Jacek Nawrocki’s team won sets two to four after dropping the opening set. But Malwina Smarzek’s performance deserve the marquee after scoring 41 points, 36 off attacks and four from blocks. This pushes her league-leading total to 117 points, 36 points clear of Dominican Republic’s Brayelin Martinez.
This new VNL single-game scoring record is three points higher than her personal best last year. Remember, she did this in just four sets. Smarzek’s output matched that of Bulgaria’s top three scorers: Gergana Dimitrova (17), Miroslava Paskova (14), and Nasya Dimitrova (10). Natalia Medyrzyk is Poland’s second best scorer with 17.
Middle game on point for USA
The Americans continued their supremacy in the VNL by unleashing their middle blockers against Serbia. Dana Rettke and Haleigh Washington dominated their counterparts by tallying a combined 30 points. Micha Hancock’s precise playmaking enabled the middles to inflict damage. Rettke and Washington had eight of USA’s 16 blocks. In contrast, Serbia only had two for the entire team.
Coach Zoran Terzic’s team was in a handicap due to the absence of Tijana Boskovic and Brankica Mihajlovic. However, the Serbians capitalized on opponent’s errors to take the opening set. Unfortunately, the Americans stamped their class in the next three sets.
The reigning world champions had no answer for Andrea Drews. Madison Kingdon and Sarah Wilhite Parsons provided enough support as well. Karch Kiraly’s crew also maintained scoring balance as Parsons had the lowest output among hitters and blockers with nine points. They would need that variety during their upcoming match against Italy.
Italy remains undefeated
Paola Egonu played sparingly in three sets while Anna Danesi only had six points. Cristina Chirichella only played in the last set while Miryam Sylla did not see action at all. Still, the Italians pulled off a four-set victory over the Dominican Republic. Monica de Gennaro’s return allowed Italy to gain 45 digs and 22 receptions in the match.
While the Dominicans had more blocks and aces, the Italians owned a 61-43 margin in attack points. Indre Sorokaite made 17 points while Lucia Bosetti added 16. Brayelin Martinez paced the Dominicans with 15.
Germany, South Korea break into win column
The Germans and the Koreans are winless no more. Germany defeated Russia in straight sets by dominating in blocks, 11-4. Jana Franziska Poll and Louisa Lippmann led with 12 points apiece. Meanwhile, Margarita Kurilo and Mariia Khaletskaia paced Russia with 13 points each.
On the other hand, the Koreans got their first win against Belgium. They established a solid game from the service line by tallying 11 aces as compared to Belgium’s one. All of those who played for Korea in this match got at least one ace. Attack points also went to their favor, 42-33. Heejin Kim led the way with 18 points while Seungju Pyo added 11. Britt Herbots is the only Belgian in double figures with 13 points.
It is impressive to limit Thailand to just nine points in the third and deciding set. Consider that a consolation because Zhu Ting only played one set. Still, China completed a great start to Week 2 thanks to the rest of their A-team. Xiangyu Gong led with 13 points while Xinyue Yuan and Changning Zhang had 12 apiece. Yingying Li made 11 and Ni Yan tallied six.
The defeat brought Thailand to 15th place. They committed 17 errors while losing all offensive categories. The Thais had a hard time dealing with China’s height advantage as no one reached double figures. Chatchu-on Moksri led them with nine points while Pleumit Thinkaow had eight.
Turkey suffers first loss
The Turks had a chance to win the first two sets. However, Japan just had a better push at the end. The Japanese then gave Turkey their first loss by completing a three-set win. While Turkey often dominates in blocking, Japan held their ground by falling just one block short. Unfortunately, Giovanni Guidetti’s troops committed 22 errors while Japan only had ten.
Ebrar Karakurt had a sub-par game with eight points. Zehra Gunes was Turkey’s lone bright spot with 17. Meanwhile, Ai Kurogo finally had an impressive game in the VNL with 20 points. Yuki Ishii finished with 14 markers while Risa Shinnabe scored ten.
Match of the day
The Netherlands took the opening set against Brazil, 25-21. However, the Brazilians owned an extended second set, 30-28. Jose Roberto Guimaraes’ team won the third, 25-20. But the Dutch won’t give up that easily as they forced a fifth set, 25-18. Both teams fought hard for the win. In the end, it was the Brazilians who clinched their fifth victory, 15-11.
While Jamie Morrison’s squad had the edge in aces and blocks, their 31 errors did them in this game. Gabriela Guimaraes paced Brazil with 19 points while Tainara Santos and Ana Guedes chipped in 13 and nine, respectively. Meanwhile, the Netherlands got 16 points each from Marrit Jasper, Nika Daalderop, and Eline Timmerman.