2017 FIVB VOLLEYBALL WORLD GRAND PRIX – GROUP 1 SEMIFINALS
- Group 1 Semifinals
- August 5th, 2017
- Nanjing, China
- FIVB World Grand Prix, Semifinals Match #1
The top two teams from last year’s Olympic tournament, Serbia and China, have struggled throughout this year’s Grand Prix with consistency and playing well as a team, but on Sunday, Serbia came together best to take the bronze medal in Nanjing. That makes Serbia’s 3rd medal and 3rd brone medal in the 25-year history of this competition. All 3 of those bronze medals have come in this decade.
Serbia def. China 3-1 (25-22, 20-25, 25-23, 25-21)
It was a serve-and-block focus for a whittled-down Serbian team. Among the hallmarks of the Olympic silver medalists in this tournament has been a huge breadth of players that they’ve used in the tournament, but in the bronze medal team they tightened that rotation as much as they have – only their 6 starter, 1 libero, and a single reserve, Bianka Busa, played in the match.
“Serbia put a lot of pressure on us in serve and block,” Chinese captain Zhu Ting said. “I have to find the gap in their defence to score in this match.”
That concentrated the scoring in their two powerful hitters: opposite Tijana Boskovic, who had 31 points on 25 kills, 4 aces, and 2 blocks; and wing Brankica Mihajlovic, who had 18 points with 15 kills and 3 aces.
In total, Serbia had 11 aces in the match – which matches their second-best in the tournament. When the Serbian service has been on key, they’ve been almost unbeatable in this tournament. They seem to have identified a weakness in China – when the two teams played in the group stages two weeks ago, Serbia had 13 aces and won that match 3-1 as well.
Boskovic had 25 kills and 9 hitting errors – the latter number is a little high, but the overall success rate of 61% is phenomenal against a team as stout defensively as is China. In total, Serbia hit 53% in the match – 10 points better than China’s 43%.
The aces and the improved hitting percentage was the difference for Serbia as compared to last year’s Olympic title game.
China’s superstar Zhu Ting played a typically-efficient game, she had 17 kills and only 5 errors in 35 swings in the match, finishing with 19 total points to lead China. Her 2nd Yuan Xinyue had just 11 though, and that was the big separation in the match – the support Boskovic got versus the support that Zhu got.
“I am proud of my team for the bronze medal win in the World Grand Prix,” Boskovic said post-match. “Even though we lost to Brazil in the semifinal, we showed that we still have power to play well as a team.”
The Chinese scored a massive 33 points off Serbian errors while only giving up 19 themselves, but Serbia’s many mistakes, including 17 on service, came with high rewards.
“It is difficult to play against China because they have strong attack and they have the support of their fans,” said Serbian coach Zoren Terzic. “We played much better today than yesterday. I am really satisfied with my team’s performance not only in the Final Six, but also for the entire tournament. We topped pool play and we only lost one match in the Finals, which is impressive. We will start to prepare for the European Championship in September.”
Full Match Replays and Highlight Videos: