Italy, Belgium Stave Off Upsets in Close Pool D Matches

  0 Wendy Mayer | June 01st, 2017 | European volleyball, International Volleyball, News

FIVB World Championships – European Qualification Women

Italy and Belgium continued to lead Pool D with a pair of sweeps Thursday in Kortrijk, Belgium, while Bosnia and Herzegovina picked up its first win, topping Latvia in four sets.

All three matches featured some closer than expected scores, however.


Belgium 3, Spain 0

Belgium racked up 10 blocks to slow Spain in a 25-21, 25-18, 25-14 sweep.

Lise Van Hecke managed 18 points, including 15 kills, two blocks and an ace. Freya Aelbrecht and Laura Heyrman added 10 points each to aid the Belgian effort. Aelbrecht put up a team-best five blocks, while Heyrman hit at a team-leading 60 percent clip and added three blocks.

Belgium led Sets 1 and 2 from start to finish, but fell behind early in Set 3, before rebounding with a 9-2 run to take a 16-10 mid-set lead and cruise to victory.

“We know the Belgians very well because we practiced together a few times,” Spanish coach Pascual Saurin said. “However, we could only play two friendly matches while preparing for this tournament. So, our aim is to make some progress with each match, while the Belgians want to qualify to the World Championship.”

Spain served up four aces, while allowing just three, but were done in by 21 miscues. Ana Escamilla turned in 14 points, with 12 kills and two aces, while Maria Segua and Jessica Rivero added 11 points apiece.


Italy 3, Belarus 0

The Italians hit at a 53 percent clip and racked up 48 kills to just 35 for Belarus in a closer than expected sweep. Italy won 25-12, 26-24, 25-22, but had to come from behind in each of the last two sets for the victory.

“After the first set, where the Italian star player Paola Egonu successfully finished 80% of her attempts, our block started working better and better,” Belarus coach Aliaksandr Klimovich said.

Italy pounded down 16 kills in Set 1 an got help from three aces in a start to finish victory. In Set 2, Belarus led 8-7 early, but could not hang out despite racking up four blocks in the stanza. Belarus rallied from down 8-6 to take a 16-15 lead, but Italy recovered to close out the match, downing 17 kills in the stanza.

“After a very good first set, we had problems with their variety of serves, their good defense and their well-performing counterattacks,” Italy coach Davide Mazzanti said. “On Sunday against Belgium I want my players to play with a lot more aggressiveness. We can definitely play better than we did today.”


Egonu led all hitters with 18 points, including 14 kills, two blocks and two aces. Raphaela Folie (13) and Caterina Chiara Bosetti (12) followed.

Anastasiya Kannanovich put up 15 points, including a match-high 14 kills, to lead Belarus, while Aksana Kavalchuk added 14 points, including three blocks and two aces.


Bosnia and Herzegovina 3, Latvia 1

Bosnia and Herzegovina struggled with miscues in Set 2 and a tough Latvian blocked in Set 3, but bookended the match with two easy victories on Thursday. Bosnia and Herzegovina won the match 25-11, 25-21, 25-27, 25-12.

After a 25-11 shellacking in Set 1, the Latvians put together an 8-4 mid-set rally in Set 2, taking a brief 21-20 lead only to fall 25-21. Latvia built on the effort in Set 3, racing ahead 16-10. Bosnia and Herzegovina responded to go up 21-19, but Latvia rallied to win the set 27-25 with help from eight blocks. Bosnia and Herzegovina did not make a single error in Set 4, instead putting down 15 kills and added three blocks in the 25-12 win.

Bosnia and Herzegovina won the blocking battle 15-12 and outserved Latvia 10-7, and managed a 43 percent hitting effort.

Ana Gajic put up 17 points, including 12 kills and four blocks to lead the victors. Verica Simic (16), Ajla Parazik (15), Sanja Kojic-Duric (10) and Edina Begic (10) also tallied double-digit point totals.

Inese Jursone scored a match-high 19 points to lead the Latvian effort, posting 13 kills , five blocks and an ace. Alise Petersone added 12 points.

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About Wendy Mayer

Wendy Mayer

Wendy Mayer has worked in athletics media relations for the last 20 years. The Northwest Missouri State alumna is currently senior writer for after spending the last 15 years with Purdue athletics.

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