After narrow losing to the Netherlands in five sets during their FIVB Women’s World Championship 2018 encounter, the Japanese women’s volleyball team must have channeled all of their frustration to Mexico. What’s amazing is that they won with seemingly mathematical precision as they toppled the Mexicans in straight sets: 25-15, 25-15, 25-15. Yes, that’s how the score line went.
But if we dig deeper into the stats, the divide starts to unravel. Japan is just a far more superior team than Mexico as shown by their advantages in scoring spikes, 39-33, and kill blocks, 6-3. Service aces are no contest in favor of the Kumi Nakada-coached squad, 13-3. They also made it uneasy for the Mexicans who committed 17 errors for the entire match while reducing theirs to six. It’s hard to beat a team that commits only two errors on the average per set.
Mexico did have more receptions, 21-9, but that was because Japan had more serving opportunities. When Mexico had a chance to attack, the Japanese extended the rally by executing one of the 36 total digs. In contrast, Mexico only had 28. Japan also had a slight edge in sets, 11-8. The win brings them to second place in Pool A with a 2-1 record while Mexico fell to 1-2.
Miyu Nagaoka led the Japanese in scoring with 14 (ten spikes, two blocks, two aces) while Yuki Ishii is next with 13 (12 spikes, one ace). Mami Uchiseto had nine while Sarina Koga added six. Haruyo Shimamura joined the scoring fray with five while Nana Iwasaka and Mai Okumura had four points apiece. Koyomi Tominaga and Ai Kurogo had two and one, respectively. Meanwhile, three players scored exactly ten points each for Mexico: Andrea Rangel, Samantha Bricio, and Melanie Guadalupe Parra Quntero.
Kazakhstan overpowered by Dominican Republic
The Kazakhstan women’s volleyball team is yet to win a set in the competition as the Dominican Republic dominated them in three sets: 25-22, 25-15, 25-19. If not for the 15 errors committed by the Domicanos as compared to the Kazakhs’ 11, the margin of victory would have been bigger. Likewise, Kazakhstan was not able to capitalize their advantage in excellent sets, 57-47, and receptions, 20-6, as the Dominican Republic had a whopping 49-33 advantage in spikes.
The Domincan Republic also dominated the net to tally 11 blocks compared to Kazakhstan’s five. They also had a slim edge in service aces, 4-3. Prisilla Rivera Brens led the Dominicanos with 14 points while Yonkaira Paola Peña Isabel had 13. Bethania De La Cruz De Peña added 11 and Lisvel Elisa Eve Mejia had ten. Meanwhile, Sana Anarkulova topped the Kazakhstan scoring list with eight while Yekaterina Zhdanova and Yana Petrenko had seven apiece.
The Chinese women’s volleyball team seemed to be looking for its bearings in the first two sets as Canada was able to register 21 points in both sets. Still those were not enough to give the top team in the world its first losing set. After a wake-up call by coach Lang Ping, China played like the world’s best to finish the Canadians in the third, 25-13.
Only excellent digs (26-24) and receptions (13-10) went in favor of coach Marcello Abbondanza. Everything else was dominated by China especially excellent sets (27-6) and errors (10-19). China had seven more scoring spikes (40-33), two more kill blocks (10-8), and two more service aces (6-4). The win gave China its third victory in as many matches while Canada is yet to win a set in the FIVB Women’s World Championship 2018.
Zhu Ting led China’s scoring with 14 while Yuan Xinyue added ten. Gong Xiangyu had nine while Yan Ni and Liu Xiaotong had seven points each. Li Yingying added six scores while Hu Mingyuan, Zeng Chunlei, and Yao Di all had one point apiece. Meanwhile, Kiera Van Ryk paced Canada’s scoring with 11 while Emily Maglio collected nine. Brianna Beamish scored six while Autumn Baily made five. Alicia Ogoms, Alexa Lea Gray, Jennifer Cross, and Megan Cyr all had three points each. Shainah Joseph completes Canada’s scoring with two.
South Korea bows to USA
At least for the first set, South Korea gave us hope that they can win against the United States. With a quick attack led by team captain Kim Yeon Koung, the Cha Haewon-coached team stormed to take Set 1, 25-19. However, the Americans gathered their wits to capture the next three sets: 25-21, 25-21, 25-18. The win kept the USA’s unblemished record while the loss means that South Korea must win against Russia and Trinidad and Tobago to keep their second round hopes alive.
The Americans orchestrated a balanced attack with Kelly Murphy leading the way with 18 and Rachel Adams adding 16. Tetori Dixon, Jordan Larson, and reigning FIVB Women’s World Championship MVP Kimberly Hill all had ten points each. Volleyball Nations League MVP Michelle Bartsch-Hackley scored all of her six points in the first set while Karsta Lowe contributed four. Setter Carli Lloyd, Micha Hancock, and Sarah Wilhite had two, one, and one point, respectively.
Park Jeongah had an impressive game with 26 points (24 spikes, one block, one ace) while Yeon Koung Kim made 17. Lee Jaeyeong is the third South Korean in double figures with 11. Teen-ager Eunjin Park added six and Su Ji Kim tallied five. Lee Nayeon and Lee Juah combined for three scores.
Thailand edges Trinidad and Tobago
The victory came with a price though as Pimpichaya Kokram went down in the third set due to an injury to her ACL. With the score tied at 22, Kokram jousted against Renele Forde which sent the ball to the Thais side of the court. Setter Nootsara Tomkom was able to prevent the ball from hitting the ground but her attempt was strong enough to bring the ball slightly over the net to the other side. Sinead Jack and Pleumjit Thinkaow had another joust which the former won. Pimpichaya tried to dig the ball but failed as she was apparently shaken up.
In the post-game interview, Thai coach Danai Sriwatchamaytakul mentioned that Kokram had her knee examined in the hospital. But as relief to Thai volleyball fans, the injury does not look serious and nothing but an overstretch. Pimpichaya was even smiling and feeling like a queen when her teammates carried her off the court. If it was serious, Thailand will have to find a way to address the 17 points that she gives on the average per match.
Still, there’s reason to celebrate because the win got them closer to the next round. Thatdao Nuekjang and Ajcharaporn Kongyot picked up Kokram’s slack to score 17 apiece while Thinkaow had 15. Wilavan Apinyapong collected ten points while Malika Kanthong and Tomkom had four and three points, respectively. Pimpichaya left the game with six points. On the other hand, Kyrstle Esdelle led Trinidad and Tobago with 15 while former Foton Tornadoes import Channon Thompson added 14. Jack tied Thomspon’s output while another former PSL import in Darlene Ramdin had four.