Herbots averages 27.5 points per match in the World Championship

A packed Gelredome, in Arnhem, wasn’t enough to intimidate Belgium as the Yellow Tigers upset hosts the Netherlands to secure their third victory in the 2022 FIVB Volleyball Women’s World Championship and keep the dispute for the top spot in Pool A open ahead of the second phase of the tournament.

Coming from a 3-1 defeat to reigning Volleyball Nations League and European champions Italy on Tuesday, the Belgians bounced back in a convincing way, downing their continental rivals the Netherlands also in four sets (25-26, 25-23, 24-26, 27-25) in front of their home fans on Friday.

· Watch all FIVB Volleyball Women’s World Championship 2022 matches live on Volleyball TV.

It was just the third Belgian victory over their neighbours in 13 international encounters and the first after three consecutive Dutch wins. The last triumph of the Yellow Tigers took place during the 2019 edition of the VNL.

“We were talking in the locker room and saying that playing the Netherlands in front of such a big crowd in their country at the World Championship would be a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” Belgian outside hitter Britt Herbots reacted. “It was breathtaking to be here, and to win it, it was just insane. We consider their team stronger than ours, so for us, any points we could get from this match would be just a bonus and would help us a lot in the second phase. But we played really hard and got a little bit lucky at the end.”


Belgium's substitutes rush on to the court after the game-winning point

The match had probably the best individual performance of the World Championship so far, with Herbots producing an incredible 41 points, with 38 kills, two blocks and one ace. The 23-year-old outside hitter is now the top scorer of the tournament with 110 points, 28 more than the second-placed player on the list, Japan’s Arisa Inoue.

Herbots' 41 points is the second highest mark ever achieved by a player in the Women's World Championship, trailing only the stellar performance by Italian star Paola Egonu in the semifinals of the 2018 edition of the tournament. On the occasion, she left the court with 45 points scored against China.

“I get set a lot of times, I know that’s my role with the team,” she commented. “I’m just super happy that today it worked really well. But it wasn’t just me. Everyone played amazing and that’s what we need to beat teams that are stronger than us. Losing to Italy put us down a little bit, but also brought us closer and that’s what we needed for this match.”

As Herbots mentioned, other Belgian players also had a great night, especially fellow outside hitter and team captain Celine Van Gestel, who left the court with 13 points (all in kills), and middle blocker Marlies Janssens, who had a match-high six blocks to go with her five kills and one ace.


The growing rivalry involving Belgium and the Netherlands had another chapter in front of a packed Gelredome

On the Dutch side, team captain and outside hitter Anne Buijs was the individual standout with a 22-point performance, built with 20 kills and two blocks. Fellow outside hitter Nika Daalderop tallied 19 (18 kills, one block), while opposite Celeste Plak chipped in another ten (seven kills, three blocks).

The victory keeps three Pool A teams in the hunt for the top spot ahead of the second phase – Italy (four wins, 12 points), Belgium (three wins, nine points) and the Netherlands (three wins, nine points), who are all guaranteed a place in the next round.

The conclusion of Pool A’s match schedule will take place on Sunday, in Arnhem, with the Belgians facing Cameroon (no wins, no points) at 13.00 local time (11.00 GMT) and the Italians playing the Dutch three hours later.

The fourth and final Pool A spot in the second phase is between Puerto Rico and Kenya, who will play each other on Saturday, at 16.00 local time (14.00 GMT). The Caribbeans and the Africans will enter that decisive match tied with three points each after winning one of the first four matches at the World Championship.