2018 FIVB WOMEN’S VOLLEYBALL NATIONS LEAGUE – WEEK 1/POOL 2
- May 15th-17th, 2018
- Beilun Gymnasium, Ningbo, China (capacity: 8,000)
- Time Zone: GMT + 8 (US Eastern Time +12)
- World Rankings: #1 China, #9 Dominican Republic, #10 South Korea #13 Belgium
China rolled on and South Korea picked up a crucial 2-point win on day 2 of the 2018 Volleyball Nations League stop in Ningbo, China. The story of the weekend in the pool continues to be the raw dominance of China even playing without their star Zhu Ting, as they picked up their 2nd 3-0 sweep in as many days.
Meanwhile, South Korea, who were swept by Belgium on Tuesday, grabbed their first win, beating a struggling Dominican Republic team. The DR did, however, pick up an important point in their quest to remain in the Volleyball Nation’s League next year, which is 1 more than either Poland or Argentina has earned so far.
Results After Day 2:
|Date||Time||Score||Set 1||Set 2||Set 3||Set 4||Set 5||Total||Report|
|15 May||16:00||Belgium||3–0||South Korea||25–18||25–22||25–21||75–61||P2P3|
|15 May||19:30||China||3–0||Dominican Republic||25–17||25–15||25–11||75–43||P2P3|
|16 May||16:00||Dominican Republic||2–3||South Korea||24–26||27–25||25–21||14–25||12–15||102–112||P2P3|
|17 May||16:00||Dominican Republic||–||Belgium||–||–||–||0–0||P2P3|
|17 May||19:30||China||–||South Korea||–||–||–||0–0||P2P3|
China def. Belgium, 3-0
- #1 China def #13 Belgium 3-0 (25-17, 25-15, 25-11)
- China moves to 2-0 (6 points), Belgium falls to 1-1 (3 points)
China was again led by youth in their 2nd match of the tournament. Xinyue Yuan, already a relative veteran at just 21-years old, led the team with 15 points, including 10 kills on 12 swings (83%) to go along with 2 blocks and 3 aces. 18-year old Yingying Li added 14 with 12 kills and 2 blocks, and hit 48% in the match. That comes as a follow-up to her National Team debut yesterday, where she had 17 and hit 49%.
As a team, China had just 4 errors of all kinds, while forcing 19 from Belgium. All of that led to a 54% hitting day for the Chinese.
After a balanced offensive performance in their opening sweep of the DR, Belgium’s 22-year old opposite Kaja Grobelna took control of the team’s offense on Wednesday, as she did for much of last year’s Grand Prix. That, unfortunately for Belgium, hasn’t been a winning formula of late: they didn’t win a match at the Grand Prix where they relied heavily on her, and they struggled on Wednesday with the same formula. She had 16 kills in 26 swings (62%), but the rest of her team combined to hit just 31%.
Britt Herbots, who led Belgium in scoring in day 1, had just 6 points (6 kills, 25 swings) on day 2. At only 18-years old, however, inconsistency is part of the package (not withstanding the consistent performance of Li, mentioned above).
China also out-blocked Belgium 8-3, and had a 4-0 ace advantage.
By giving up just 90 points in their first two matches combined, China has all-but-guaranteed that they’ll sit atop the global table after day 2, although they do have a spot in the Final 6 assured anyway as the host team.
China finishes the pool on Thursday with a match against South Korea, while Belgium will finish with the Dominican Republic.
South Korea def. Dominican Republic 3-2
- #10 South Korea def. #9 Dominican Republic 3-2 (26-24, 27-25, 25-21, 14-25, 12-15)
- South Korea moves to 1-1 (2 points), Dominican Republic falls to 0-2 (1 point)
South Korea and the Dominican Republic both picked up their first points of the tournament on Wednesday, but it was South Korea that came up with the win: the first and most important tie-breaker.
Both teams relied heavily on their superstars in the match, with Dominican Republic’s Brayelin Martinez scoring 31 points with 27 kills on 60 swings, and South Korea’s Yeon Koung Kim scoring 29 points with 26 kills on 63 swings. For Martinez, that came out to 34% of her team’s swings, while for Kim that was 36%.
After the match, Kim seemed still fixated on the loss to Belgium. “We were not happy with the loss to Belgium yesterday, but today we made big adjustments,” she said. “We analysed the attack-defence system so we made improvements.
“It’s really difficult to win in five sets. After yesterday, we were a little bit upset. We lost to Belgium because we expected that we could win. Today we tried our best with our blocks and defence against the Dominican Republic.
“We haven’t prepared against China yet. They are the best team in the world and the match will be played in their home court. It will be another difficult match, but for sure we will do our best to focus on our own game.”
The difference between the two teams in the match, especially late, was the relative successes of their supporting cast, and the number of points they gave up on errors. The Dominican Republic’s #2 took 41 swings but came away with only 11 kills. Korea’s #2 Jaeyeong Lee took 40 swings and came away with 15 kills, including an almost impossible lunging-dig-over-on-1 shot to score the clinching point of the first set. South Korea also got 7 blocks from Su Ji Kim, part of an overall 18-6 blocking advantage for the South Koreans in the match.
“Our blocking today was better than yesterday,” said Korean coach Kim Haewon after the match. “Last night, we also discussed our performance on service, so today we will cover the other things. I think we did not really do well in the third set, but the Dominican Republic made more mistakes. Fortunately my players (were) in great shape today. That was the winning factor.”
The Dominican coach was critical of his team’s performance, saying that he was “not happy with the way we played the game today.” He says his team needs to make fewer mistakes, especially in crucial moments.
Dominican Republic will finish the pool on Thursday with a crucial “challenger” matchup against Belgium. South Korea will finish against China.