Man, that was a great day of volleyball as two matches went the distance. Defending Volleyball Nations League champions USA fought hard against Italy. Likewise, Poland and Brazil went to a fifth set. Unfortunately, only one team can win. Here’s what happened in Day 5 of VNL 2019.
The Poles survive against the Brazilians
Poland had a chance to win the game in straight sets. However, they failed to close the third set to give Brazil the opportunity. Top scorer Malwina Smarzek made a crucial mistake that allowed the South Americans to snatch the pivotal set, 28-26. Their momentum carried over to the fourth set, 25-18. However, the Poles regained their composure to dominate the deciding set, 15-9.
Smarzek contined her hot streak in the VNL with 31 points. But it’s a good thing that she got more help this time. Magdalena Stysiak scored 18 points in her first match in the tournament. Agneiszka Kakowleska added 14, seven off blocks, while Natalia Medrzyk made 11.
Meanwhile, it’s another disappointing finish for the Brazilians after dropping a four-setter to the Dominican Republic in Week 1. Ana Correa led the way with 18 points while Gabriela Guimaraes made 16. They are looking to end Week 2 on a high note against Bulgaria.
The host team needed just one set to take the win. They lost. The Americans came back to take the game in five courtesy of Madison Kingdon Rishel’s heroics. But more importantly, Coach Karch Kiraly found new reliables in Simone Lee and Chiaka Ogbogu. Lee, a wing spiker from Penn State, made 13 points. Meanwhile, Ogbogu added 12. USA remains the only undefeated team in the competition.
On the other hand, the Italians were punished by their 32 unforced errors. Still, there are positives that they can take from this game. Miryam Sylla made 14 points in just three sets. Indre Sorokaite is continuing her hot VNL performance to keep Paola Egonu at bay. The Lithuania-born spiker collected 19 attacks and three aces to put the pressure on the Americans. Italy will engage with a 2018 World Championship rematch with Serbia to close the second week.
Asian teams dominate the day
South Korea was the only Asian representative that dropped their match. That’s because they lost to Thailand in four sets. Malika Kanthong and Chatchu-on Moksri came back to form by tallying 19 points apiece while Ajcharaporn Kongyot made 17. Seungju Pyo led the Koreans with 17 markers.
Meanwhile, the Japanese countered Russia’s advantage in blocks and aces with more attack points. Five players were in double figures, led by Yuki Ishii and Risa Shinnabe with 17 points each. Margarita Kurilo paced the Russians with 22. Unfortunately, their errors allowed Japan to close the match in an extended fourth set.
Finally, China made it two wins in a row by dominating Belgium in straight sets. Lang Ping’s crew lorded in attack points, 46-29, and blocks, 11-4. Yingying Li led the Chinese barrage with 16 points while Changning Zhang added 13. Kaja Grobelna was the lone bright spot for the Belgians with 14 markers.
Returning to the win column
Meryem Boz finally had her coming out party in VNL 2019 after leading Turkey over Germany in straight sets. The wing spiker topped in scoring with 17. Likewise, the Turks re-established their impenetrable net defense by collecting 12 stuff blocks. Louisa Lippmann returned to form by scoring 14 for the Germans.
The Dutch also scored a victory after their bitter five-set loss to Brazil. Marrit Jasper scored 22 to ignite the Netherlands’ charge against Bulgaria. Nicole Huttikluis supported with 19 points while Annick Meijers scored ten. On the other hand, the Bulgarians remain winless in five games. Gergana Dimitrova is the lone double-digit scorer with 16 points.
Lastly, Serbia recovers from their setback against the United States by winning over the Dominican Republic. The Serbians unleashed a strong service game to hand the Dominicans their second straight loss. Ana Bjelica sparked Serbia’s offense with 24 points while Katarina Lazarovic dished out 16 markers.