Only five teams are left undefeated after Day 2 of the FIVB Volleyball Nations League. Three of them have only dropped one set but Turkey is on top due to superior points ratio. On the other hand, five teams are also seeking their first victory. One of them came close to winning if they were able to close the sets.
Sensational blocking from the Turks
Turkey led in attack points in each of their first two matches. They had a 46-32 advantage over South Korea and a 48-42 edge over the Netherlands. However, it is in blocking that they inflict damage. Coach Giovanni Guidetti’s troops had 18 blocks against the Dutch. That was after a 17-block performance against the Koreans the previous day.
The Turks had 35 kill blocks in two games. That boils down to five per set consider that they defeated Korea in three and won against the Dutch in four. It doesn’t include attacks that they have slowed down due to deflections. This could be the main reason why they are ahead in points ratio against the other undefeated teams.
It’s scary that several players contributed to Turkey’s domination at the net. Nine of their players have registered at least one kill block with Kubra Caliskan leading the way with nine. Asli Kalac is next on the list with six while Hande Baladin is not far behind with five. Meliha Ismailoglu and Zehra Gunes tallied four apiece.
Outside hitter Ebrar Karakurt has three while Fatma Yildirim made two. Meryem Boz and Cansu Ozbay have one kill block each. It remains to be seen whether the Turks can keep up their solid net defense. Their next match against defending World Champions Serbia will be an acid test.
Serbia gave its stars the day off
Tijana Boskovic and Brankica Mihajlovic did not play against the Koreans. This strategy by Coach Zoran Terzic backfired in the opening set as the Kim Yeonkoung-less squad won, 25-15. But that was all Korea wrote as the Serbs dominated the rest of the way.
Serbia allowed an average of just 16.33 points in sets two to four. Ana Bjelica paced the Serbs with 19 points, seven of which came in the deciding set. Mina Popovic added 14 while Sara Lozo and Maja Aleksic made 13 and 12 markers, respectively. The reigning world champions had a 13-6 rout in blocks and a 50-43 advantage in attacks.
Wins like these give confidence to their second stringers. More importantly, it provides rest for their top guns before a touch match-up against Turkey. While the Turks have been a menace at the net so far, expect Boskovic and company to come out with much firepower in their match.
So far, so good for Italy
Coach Davide Mazzanti doesn’t have most of the players from the World Championship silver medal squad. That isn’t an issue so far as they keep on winning. Italy has emerged victorious in five of their last six matches dating back to the Montreux Masters. After edging Poland in five sets, they remain undefeated in the VNL after a straight-sets victory over Thailand.
Indre Sorokaite, Elena Pietrini, and Lucia Bosetti are leaders of this Italian volleyball army. Sorokaite averaged 20 points per game after two matches while Pietrini produces 16.5 markers per outing. Bosetti is not far behind with 13 per contest. Italy is hoping to keep its unblemished record when they face Germany.
What’s happening to China?
They have taken just one out of seven sets. After bowing to Brazil in straight sets, the Russians gave their second straight loss. They could have extended the Russia match to a fifth set but did not have enough. The Chinese are struggling without their main players Zhu Ting and Liu Xiaotong to name a few.
There are still bright spots in the Chinese roster despite the losing streak. Liu Yanhan is averaging 14 points per match while Zeng Chunlei makes 12 per contest. However, Lang Ping’s squad needs more players to step up if they want to enter the VNL 2019 Final Six.
Matches of the day
In terms of significance, the Domincan Republic’s four-set victory over Brazil is worthy of distinction. This is the first time in 31 matches that the Domincans defeated the Brazilians. More importantly, this is the second victory in as many games for the Marcos Kwiek-coached squad.
Bethania De La Cruz De Peña paced the Domincans with 20 points while Brayelin Elizabeth Martinez added 18. On the other hand, Gabriela Braga Guimaraes tallied 29 points in the loss. The Dominicans had a 64-59 edge in attacks and a 12-6 margin in blocks.
The Poland-Germany game deserves distinction as well. While the Poles took the match in four sets, every frame could have gone either way. Poland took the first set at 25-21 before the Germans responded with a 25-23 set two win. Jacek Nawrocki’s team complete the win by winning the third set, 25-23, and the fourth, 26-24. Malwina Smarzek scored a tournament-high 32 points for Poland. Louisa Lippmann led Germany with 23 markers.
But nothing beats the Belgium-Bulgaria game in terms of sheer drama. The Bulgarians took the first two sets, 25-19 and 25-15. However, the Belgians came back to pull off a victory. Set five ended at 15-13 for Gert Vande Broek’s crew. Britt Herbots led the Belgians with 23 points while Celine Van Gestel made 14. Miroslava Paskova topped Bulgaria’s scoring with 21.