FM WU18 DOMvsARG (34)

Argentina finished ninth at the 2021 FIVB Volleyball Girls’ U18 World Championship in Durango, Mexico, after the South Americans dominated the Dominican Republic to a straight-set victory at the Auditorio del Pueblo. The Argentineans returned to the top ten after placing 12th in 2019.

In an earlier match, Thailand came from behind to defeat Slovakia 3-1 and take the 11th place, their best finish since 2009.

The Argentineans secured their third-straight victory in the tournament as they dominated the Dominicans in their three-set meeting. Hitting (40 kills to Dominican Republic’s 29) and especially serving (10-2 in aces) were the most important elements of the Argentinean triumph.

Argentinean captain and middle blocker Agustina Campanella led all scorers with 12 points (six kills, four blocks, two aces), one more than Dominican opposite Ariana Rodriguez, who produced 11 (ten kills, one block). Argentinean outside hitter Milena Margaria also reached double digits with ten points.

“We had won the last two matches and that has put us in a great position to win this match,” said setter Julieta Aruga. “We were really determined to finish ninth and end the tournament as well as possible. This was my first start in the tournament, but I had my mind on the right place for when that happened. It’s very emotional for us. We were looking forward to be in the top eight, but we had a difficult matchup against the United States and couldn’t do it. But we finished in the best position we could and that makes us really happy.”

The Thai bounced back from a first-set loss to find their best form and win the next three and take the match. Their victory was built upon their higher offensive efficiency (61 kills to Slovakia’s 45) as the Europeans were better in every other area of the game, registering more blocks (5-3) and aces (7-5) and fewer mistakes (28-32).

Thai players pose after their victory in the final day of the tournament

Thai players pose after their victory in the final day of the tournament

Outside hitters Ampha Sonsurat, with 22 points (20 kills, two aces) and Donphon Sinpho, with 21 (19 kills, one block, one ace), carried the Asian offense in the match. The top scorer was, however, Slovakian opposite Radka Haskova, with 23 points (22 kills, one block).

“I’m really happy because this was a real team win,” Sinpho, the Thai captain, reflected. “Slovakia is a great team and they fought until the end, but we were all working together, players and coaching staff. We made too many mistakes in the first set and we knew that we needed to limit those errors to be able to play our game. We always believed we could do that and once we started communicating better, we did it. We wish we had gotten a better position at the end of the tournament, but 11th isn’t bad. We’re proud of what we did here.”