China produced the shock of the day knocking down Brazil and Japan made a remarkable recovery from two sets down to take Poland, as Week 3 of the 2021 FIVB Women's Volleyball Nations League wrapped up Tuesday at Italy's Adriatic resort of Rimini.
China, Japan turn out stunners of Day 9 at Women's VNL
Back-to-back '30+' from Stysiak and Zhang; China shock Brazil; USA forge ahead to 9-0
Published 10:57, 08 Jun 2021
Brazil were not their usual selves, but credit is due to China who performed impeccably to keep the South Americans from developing their play.
Zhang's high scoring came just a few minutes after Poland's Magdalena Stysiak had scored 35 against Japan for her own entry on the prestigious list. It was her second '30+' of the tournament after her 37 points against Belgium for the fifth-best all-time VNL scoring.
These bring the '30+' scoring performances in this year's VNL to six, from four players. Also making the list this year have been Belgium's Britt Herbots (twice) and Russia's Nataliya Goncahrova.
And though Stysiak's performance was not enough for Poland, 26 points from Sarina Koga plus two more in the twenties from Ai Kurogo and Mayu Ishikawa at 21 each was good for Japan to take the game.
The amazingly executed win brings Japan to 7-2 in the standings, alongside Brazil and the Netherlands, and right in the mix of the chase of table leaders USA and Turkey.
Turkey, meanwhile, avoided back-to-back defeats in what turned out to be a blocking competition between Eda Erdem (8) on the one side and Irina Fetisova (6) and Irina Koroleva (5) on the other.
Russia had some fine moments in the game, but found their masters in the Turkish block that yielded a total of 18 points.
Ebrar Karakurt was the only player across both sides to score in the twenties, finishing the match on 25 (including three aces).
A 4-1 lead of Russia in the fifth quickly evaporated as Turkey made a 14-3 run to bring the game home as Turkey extended their record to 8-1 - though they do have to face table leaders USA when they return to action for Week 4.
This keeps Turkey, now alone in second place, very much on track for a finish amongst the top four of the standings and a ticket to the semifinals.
The Netherlands are also keeping up the heat on the table leaders, after a defining sweep of Canada in under an hour and a half, for their seventh win in nine matches.
Captain Anne Buijs led by example, scoring a match high of 15 points, as the Dutch smothered Canada with their blocking that produced 12 points (four by Eline Timmerman) in the three sets of the game.
Amongst all the intensity of the day, USA provided just a little bit of drama of their own, when they dropped a set to Italy, though the defending champions did quickly regroup to take the match in and extend their winning streak of this season to nine matches, remaining on full points and at the top of the table.
It was only the second set the Americans have dropped in the competition, after one to Brazil in the opening Week.
Annie Drews was again top scorer of the game on 20 points (18/30 for 60% in attack), closely followed by Michelle Bartsh-Hackley on 19.
After a brief interlude the previous night in their defeat to Brazil, Belgium were back to their tie-break ways, edging Serbia in five - their sixth fifth-setter in nine matches.
Serbia rallied from 24-21 down to tie the score in the second in a bid to go two sets up, but a service error by Katarina Lazovic and a kill by Britt Herbots allowed Belgium to draw level.
Herbots was top scorer of the game on 28 points - enough for her to break the 200-mark and keep her on top of the best scorers list of the tournament with 207.
At 2 hours 35 minutes this has been the longest match in Women's VNL history, breaking the previous record of 2 hours 30 minutes from the Turkey v Brazil (3-2) match of 2019.
In other VNL action on Tuesday, it was again the Dominican Republic's block that stood out in the Caribbean side's victory over Thailand in straight sets. Annerys Vargas collected five of her team's 11 blocks and Bethania de la Cruz registered the match high scoring with 18 points.
And Germany put an end to their five-match losing streak with a clean sweep of Korea, led by Hanna Orthmann's match high of 19 points and an overall blocking performance that their opponents couldn't respond to.