Rio 2016 silver medallists Serbia completed the third day of competition with a perfect winning record in the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 women’s volleyball, ranking above Brazil in Pool A, while Italy claimed the top spot in Pool B above the United States.
Mihajlovic’s mettle shows as Serbia top pool with full points
Serbia and Italy hold on to leadership
Published 03:34, 29 Jul 2021
Serbian outside hitter Brankica Mihajlovic showed a lot of determination in their game against Kenya, scoring a match-high 17 points in their 3-0 (25-21, 25-11, 25-20) win.
Mihajlovic’s 17-point output was built from 10 attacks, three blocks and four aces, outscoring top Kenyan player Sharon Chepchumba Kiprono who made 12 points.
While the Kenyan team did a great job putting pressure on the Serbians in the first and third sets, the latter showed better organisation of offence and management of turnovers in the match.
Mihajlovic said that her squad was on the right path to move to the next round.
“We are doing great so far and have maximum points. We are here to get a good result because we have set a high goal in this Olympic Games. However, to get there, we must do it step by step,” she said.
In the other Pool A encounter, two-time Olympic champions Brazil were defence-oriented against Japan, mounting 16 blocks to earn their third straight victory with a 3-0 (25-16, 25-18, 26-24) win.
Middle blockers Ana Carolina Da Silva and Carol Gattaz had an equal share of six stuff blocks in the match, and Ana Carolina jointly top scored with Fe Garay with 16 points. Gabi Guimaraes had 11 markers, while Carol Gattaz’s total output was 10.
Brazil bagged the first two sets easily as their wing players overwhelmed the Japanese defenders with strong hits. Their middles likewise accomplished the job of defending their side of the net with solid blocks.
However, the South American side encountered a difficult hurdle as main setter Macris Carneiro sprained her ankle. While the injury slowed down the offence of the Brazilians, the Japanese took advantage of the opportunity to start a strong run. At 24-all, Gabi closed the match for Brazil with back-to-back spikes.
Italy played coordinated volleyball in their match against Argentina, as they showed the ability of one unit to feed off the other in both offence and defence to defeat their opponents 3-0 (25-21, 25-16, 25-15) and top Pool A.
Their strength on offence was on full display with 43 attacks and three aces in the match, with at least nine players in the squad able to take credit for their great victory. In defence, three players contributed to the block total of 11.
Paola Egonu had 17 points, but the members of the Italian starting unit also had a productive performance as outside hitter Caterina Bosetti and Elena Pietrini contributed 10 and nine markers, and Sarah Fahr and Raphaela Folie had eight and seven points in the victory. Argentina outside hitter Paula Yamila Nizetich had a team-high of eight points.
Team USA moved down to second place in Pool B after their 3-2 (25-19, 25-20, 17-25, 20-25, 15-12) win over Turkey.
The three-time FIVB Volleyball Nations League champions started with two set wins with their opposite Jordan Thompson leading the charge, but they stumbled in the next two frames as Meryem Boz’s 13-point contribution reinforced the offence of the opposing side.
USA’s two Jordans – Thompson and Larson – headed the scoring and finished with 18 and 15 points, while Meryem Boz and Hande Baladin led Turkey with 19 and 17 points.
In other matches, the ROC women’s team copied the success of their men’s team, as they delivered another upset of an Olympic champion. Arina Fedorovtseva, Nataliya Goncharova and Irina Voronkova had a big scoring night to beat China 3-2 (25-17, 23-25, 20-25, 27-25, 15-12) to severely dent the Asian team's chances of making it to the next round.
Fedorovtseva topped all scorers with 28 points, Goncharova and Voronkova produced outputs of 27 and 26, respectively, for Russia. Chinese youngster Li Yingying also had a high-scoring game, but Zhu Ting only managed to score 17.
ROC had a winning start, but China responded with two set wins. Russia pushed for an extension of the match with a 27-25 finish and Voronkova and Fedorovtseva’s heroics helped ROC turn the situation in their favour.
“When you play against a good team like China, you have to have a strong character to win. That’s what we did today, we played with a lot of passion to win. This victory gives us confidence because we didn’t have a good game against Italy, so now we are in a good position in our group,” ROC middle blocker Irina Koroleva said.
Meanwhile, Korea registered their second win in Pool A, following a 3-2 (25-20, 17-25, 25-18, 15-25, 15-12) win over the Dominican Republic.
The Koreans gave it their all to overcome the advantages of their Caribbean counterparts.
Kim Yeon-Koung tallied 16 attacks, three blocks and an ace to lead the Asian side, and Kim Heejin and Park Jeongah added 16 points. Brayelin Martinez and Yonkaira Pena had 20 and 16 points for the Dominicans.
“It was a difficult match for us, but it was also an important match for our opponents. We did everything we could to score by reading their offence. They have a physical advantage over us because they are taller, we had to use their block and defence to execute our offence, which is to use a tip or block out.”
Saturday’s matches in the women’s event will feature Dominican Republic and Kenya playing at 09.00, followed by the matchup of USA and ROC at 11.05. South American side Argentina will meet European team Turkey at 14.20, then unbeaten teams Serbia and Brazil will go head-to-head at 14.25.
The evening session will feature an all-East Asian clash between hosts Japan and South Korea at 19.40, followed by a decisive match between China and Italy at 21.45.