Plak Paces Dutch in C1 Sweep; Koga, Horkawa Lift Japan in Five-Setter

  0 Wendy Mayer | July 07th, 2017 | Asian Volleyball, European volleyball, FIVB World Grand Prix, International Volleyball, News


  • Group 1
  • July 7th – July 9th
  • FIVB World Grand Prix Round 1
  • Omnisport Apeldoorn, Appeldoorn, Netherlands
  • Pool C1
  • Schedule/Results

After 2 straight years in last place of Group 1 of the FIVB World League, the Dominican Republic dropped to Group 2 in 2016 – where they proceeded to win the title and advance back to Group 1.

The Netherlands snapped the team’s seven-match win Grand Prix win streak, exciting its home crowd of 4,300 with a 3-0 sweep on Friday.

The other match, an Asian regional showdown, saw Japan beat Thailand 3-2 in a match that was back-and-forth but only rarely competitive in any given set.

1 1 0 3
1 1 0 2
1 0 1 1
1 0 1 0

Editor’s Note: While teams are divided into 4-team pools for pragmatic reasons on each of the 3 weekends of the tournament, each teams’ record goes into a single group-wide table to determine who advances to the knockout stages. The pool standings presented here are to help keep up with each pool only, and on each day of the tournament, we will post a summary that includes the full table as well. Prize money, however, is awarded based on pool standing each weekend.

Netherlands def. Dominican Republic 3-0 (25-21, 25-19, 25-21)

Home court advantage and Dominican Republic miscues lifted the Netherlands to a sweep in its World Grand Prix opener.

The visitors committed 23 errors, while the Dutch made just 13 miscues. The home side led in blocks (10-7) and aces (2-1), while the teams each managed 40 kills.

“We started with a 3-0 victory in this 2017 edition of the FIVB World Grand Prix, so we could not have done better,” Dutch captain Maret Balkestein-Grothues said. “In my opinion, we can improve our game in the upcoming days, but this was a good match to start. This was the first time we returned to this venue since our successful European Championship in 2015. It is very good to be back in Apeldoorn.”

Celeste Plak scored a match-high 17 points, with 15 kills and two blocks, while Robin De Kruijf added 10 points, including eight kills and two blocks. Yvon Belien chipped in seven points, including a team-best five stuffs.

Gina Altagracia Mambru Casilla and Bethania De La Cruz De Pena paced the DR with 10 points each. Casilla tallied 10 kills, while De La Cruz put down eight kills and two blocks. Brayelin Elizabeth Martinez and Jineiry Martinez each chipped in nine points.

“I think we could have played better than we did tonight,” Dominican Republic coach Marcos Kwiek said. “Our game plan was to serve with a lot of pressure, and in parts of the first and the third sets we succeeded in this. At the decisive moments our serving and attacking was not good enough though.”

Japan def. Thailand 3-2 (25-19, 18-25, 25-14, 22-25, 15-9)

Japan began its 25th World Grand Prix effort by outlasting Thailand, behind 20 point efforts by Sarina Koga and Mari Horkawa.

Koga accounted for 23 points, including 20 kills and three ace, while Horikawa added 21 points, including 19 kills.

Down 2-1 in the match, Thailand rallied in Set 4 to force a tie break. Japan took charge early in the decisive fifth set and cruised to a 15-9 victory.

“I think we had the chance to win in 3 or 4 sets today, but instead we ended up playing a tiebreak,” Japan’s Yuki Ishii said. “We made too many errors for a clean win, but eventually we can be happy with this victory. I think we can expect different playing styles against the Netherlands and Dominican Republic. Against these teams, we will have to block really well to give ourselves a chance.”

The Japanese outdid their foes 71-52 in kills and 7-5 in aces, but gifted Thailand five more points in errors (22-17) and trailed them 13-10 on the block.

In addition to Koga and Horikawa, Ishii and Nana Iwasak added double-digit scoring efforts. Ishii managed 14 points, with 12 kills, while Iwasaka added 10 points, with six kills, three aces and a block.

Four Thai players put up double-digit scoring performances, led by Kokram  Pimpichaya and Kongyot Ajcharaporn’s 17 apiece. Pimpichaya downed 16 kills, while Ajcharaporn added 14 kills and two blocks. Thinkaow Pleumjit (13) and Moksri Chatchu-On (11) followed. Each managed eight kills, while Pleumjit put up a team-best four blocks and Chatchu-On tallied three.

“Japan was blocking really strong today and we didn’t show the form that we normally can show,” Thailand coach Danai Sriwacharamaytakul said. “We made too many mistakes, but because the players fought hard we managed to earn a tiebreak. In the tiebreak, we had a false start, when we trailed 0-7. We were not able to fix this anymore.”

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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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