2017 MONTREUX VOLLEY MASTERS
The semi-finals for the 2017 Montreux Volley Masters tournament in Montreux, Switzerland saw two matches with very different levels of international attention.
The top two remaining teams in the tournament in the semi-finials, based on FIVB World Rank, were #1 China, the Olympic Champions, and #4 Brazil, and those two teams faced off in one semi-final that easily could have been the gold medal match. On the other side of the bracket were #10 Argentina and #13 Germany, who played for the rights to be the underdogs in Sunday’s final.
Germany def. Argentina 3-1 (25-27, 25-19, 27-25, 25-19)
In a near head-to-head battle between German opposite Louisa Lippmann and Argentina outside Elina Rodriguez, the battle went the way of the South American with 23 points to 22, but the war went the way of Germany in a 3-1 win.
With the win, Germany advances to their second-ever final in the 8th version featuring knockout stages in the 32nd edition of the international tournament. In their only other top 4 finish, be it the knockout version or the previous round robin determination, Germany beat the United States for the gold medal in 2014.
Germany was successful on 45.59 of their offensive attacks and had a .338 efficiency rate with 62 kills and 16 errors on 136 swings. Argentina’s percentages were just 36.84 and .256, respectively, with 56 kills and 17 errors on 152 total attempts. Lippmann took 20 of those German kills herself.
Germany’s two defensive dynamos, Lenka Durr and Maren Brinker, also had big days, with 18 and 17 digs, respectively. Brinker chipped in 3 aces, while Brinker dug 17 of the 25 balls hit her way.
Brazil def. China 3-1 (25-17, 25-22, 27-29, 25-16)
While neither team is at its full-strength this tournament, world #4 Brazil had a statement win over the defending Olympic gold medalists from China 3-1 on Saturday. With the victory, Brazil will advance to Sunday’s gold medal match, where they will play Germany with hopes of winning their 7th Montreux Volley Masters title. China will play Argentina for a bronze – which would be a record-setting 20th medal for the Chinese.
Brazil was led by 22 points each from Rosamaria Montibeller and Tandara Caixeta. Also in double figures for the match were Ana Carolina da Silva, with 6 kills, 7 blocks, and an ace for 14 points; and Adenizia Da Silva with 8 kills and 5 blocks for 13 points. That output gives Adenizia a tournament-best 24 blocks (1.41/set), and Ana 14 (.82/set). As a team, Brazil out-blocked China by nearly double: 17 to 9. China has been out-blocked in 3 of its 4 matches so far in this tournament, with the lone exception being their 3-0 sweep of an out-matched Swiss team.
China’s offense was powered by 20-year old opposite Xiangyu Gong, who had 20 points on 16 kills, 2 blocks, and 2 aces. As a teenager last summer in Rio, she played primarily a reserve role for China’s gold-medal winning team. In Montreux, though, China was without starting outside, and Rio MVP, Zhu Ting, as well as their typical starting opposite hitter Yang Fangxu. Besides opening up opportunities for young players, the offensive focus has shifted this week from a heavily-rightsided approach to a more balanced attack.
The minor classification matches for 5th and 7th place in the 8-team tournaments. The actual places aren’t played out, so the winners of Saturday’s classification matches finish tied for 5th, while the losers finish tied for 7th.
Poland def. Switzerland 3-0 (25-16, 25-16, 25-16)
Poland finished off a winless tournament for the host Swiss team, who won a total of just 1 set throughout their 4 matches in the tournament.
Poland was able to get 12 of the 14 players on their roster into the game, with two of them winding up in double figures. Malwina Smarzek scored 18 points on 14 kills, 3 blocks, and an ace; while Agniszka Kakolewska followed her with 11 – 6 of which came on blocks.
Smarzek is the tournament’s leading scorer with 86 points in 4 matches.
Kakolewska’s effort led Poland’s 14-8 advantage in blocks.
Switzerland was led by Maja Storck‘s 12 points.
Netherlands def. Thailand 3-1 (25-22, 25-18, 22-25, 25-8)
The other 5th-place classification match between the Netherlands and Thailand was an evenly-matched, back-and-forth affair through 3 sets, before the Dutch hammered their Asian opponents in the 4th set to seal the match.
The Dutch got 17 points each from two of the youngest players on the roster – 21-year olds Marrit Jasper and Celeste Plak. Plak finishes her tournament with 83 points across 4 games, an average of almost 21-per-game. That makes her the 3rd-highest scorer of the tournament with the gold and bronze medal matches left to be played.