The first competition day in Pool B of the FIVB Road to Paris Volleyball Qualifiers was marked by four straight-set matches. Belgium, Türkiye, Brazil and Japan defeated Bulgaria, Puerto Rico, Argentina and Peru, respectively, on Saturday in Tokyo.
Top teams dominate on first day in Tokyo
Belgium, Türkiye, Brazil and Japan started the tournament with success
Published 12:37, 16 Sept 2023
In the opening game of the FIVB Road to Paris Volleyball Qualifiers, Belgium celebrated a straight-set victory over Bulgaria. The Belgians cruised through the first set, but the second offered an even battle, in which the lead changed hands several times. The Bulgarians were the first to reach set point, but their opponents scored three in a row to double their lead. In set three, the southern Europeans could not hold on to the five-point lead they had at 7-2 and 8-3. Belgium caught up and dominated the second half of the set to celebrate the victory.
Belgium outplayed Bulgaria on all counts, but most substantially in blocking, with 14 stuffs against seven. Three players shared the top scorer honours of the match. Belgium’s Marlies Janssens (six kill blocks) and Celine Van Gestel (three blocks and an ace), and Bulgaria’s Miroslava Paskova-Kaneva (three blocks) finished with 13 points each. Belgium’s Manon Stragier (12 points), Bulgaria’s Radostina Marinova (12 points) and Maria Yordanova (10 points) also reached the double digits.
Reigning VNL and EuroVolley champions Türkiye faced few issues in a match without suspense against Puerto Rico and cruised to an emphatic straight-set victory. The Turks hammered 37 attacking points against 26 for the opponents. They led Puerto Rico in kill blocks (9 to 3) and aces (11 to 6).
Turkish outside hitter Ebrar Karakurt delivered the match high of 16 points, including two blocks. Opposite Melissa Vargas added another 15 points, including one block, registering a 63% success rate in attack. They fired four aces each. Opposite Brittany Abercombie led the Puerto Rican scorers with 14 points.
The third match of the day was also resolved in straight sets. Brazil largely dominated on the court and Argentina enjoyed only occasional leads early into the first and the third sets. The Brazilian spiking made the big difference in the match. While the two teams registered the same number of kill blocks (nine each) and Argentina put away more aces (3 to 2) and made fewer unforced errors (14 to 18), the Brazilian offence contributed as many as 50 points towards the victory, against only 29 on their opponents’ side.
The winners’ opposite Kisy Nascimento was the best scorer of the match with 18 points, including three blocks. Captain Gabriela Guimaraes added another 12 (two blocks, one ace), while middle Thaisa Menezes contributed 11 points (one block), spiking at a 77% success rate. Middle blocker Candelaria Herrera led Argentina with 15 points, including six stuffs and an ace.
Hosts Japan mastered the most convincing win of the day, allowing Peru only 43 points across the three sets. The last time Peru had the lead in any of the sets was after the third rally of the match. Japan outplayed Peru in all scoring elements: 51 to 24 in spiking kills, 8-2 in kill blocks and 3-2 in aces, but also made more unforced errors: 15-13.
Three players reached the double digits in scoring, all on the winners’ side. The match high of 14 points, all in attack, was achieved by captain Sarina Koga. Kotona Hayashi produced two kill blocks towards a 12-point tally, while Yukiko Wada hammered one ace and 10 successful spikes, including the match winner. Aixa Vigil led Peru with seven points.