Smarzek Scores 33 To Lift Poland in 5 Sets; Russia Sweeps

  0 Wendy Mayer | June 12th, 2018 | Asian Volleyball, European volleyball, FIVB Nations League - Women, International Volleyball, News, NORCECA volleyball


  • June 12th-June 14th, 2018
  • Wałbrzych, Poland | Centrum Sportowo-Rekreacyjne Aqua Zdrój (Capacity: 2,000)
  • Time Zone: Central European Summer Time (UTC + 2)
  • World Rankings: #5 Russia, #6 Japan, #9 Dominican Republic, #22 Poland
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  • Schedule/Results
Date Time Score Set 1 Set 2 Set 3 Set 4 Set 5 Total Report
12 Jun 17:30 Russia  3–0  Dominican Republic 25–21 25–20 25–16 75–57
12 Jun 20:30 Poland  3–2  Japan 18–25 25–15 25–16 21–25 16–14 105–95

Russia def. Dominican Republic 3-0

  • Russia defeated Dominican Republic 25-21, 25-20, 25-16
  • Russia moved to 7-6 (21 points); Dominican Republic moved to 2-11 (8 points)

Russia’s offense and serving were too much for the Dominican Republic to handle as the team snapped a three-match win streak with a sweep.

The Russians downed 17 more kills (43-26) and outserved the DR 5-0 in the victory. Both teams put up five blocks. The Dominican Republic scored nearly half of its points on 26 Russian errors.

Russia went 11 deep in its lineup with eight players scoring three or more points in the victory. Ekaterina Lyubushkina, Olga Biryukova and Anna Kotikova posted nine points apiece, while Angelina Lazarenko and Irina Voronkova chipped in eight each and Natalia Malykh added in seven points. Biryukova downed a team-best nine kills, while Voronkova and Malykh added eight and seven. The rest of the group racked up six kills apiece. Kotikova served up three aces to go with her six putaways, while starting just the final set. Lyubushkina added two aces and a block, while Lazarenko and Tatiana Romanova put up a team-high two blocks apiece.

Brayelin Martinez scored a match-high 12 points on 10 kills and two blocks. Gaila Lopez and Yonkaira Pena Isabel followed with seven and six points respectively, adding a block to six and five kill totals. The team is without Jineiry Martinez, who was injured on Week 4 and opted not to play Annerys Vargas Valdez.

In a back-and-forth Set 1, Russia grabbed the advantage at 16-14 and boosted the margin to six at 22-16. The Dominican Republic fought back, but the margin was too much to overcome in a 25-21 loss, sealed by a Voronkova putaway.

The Russians pushed ahead 8-3 in Set 2, but the Dominicans pulled even at 11-all. Russia struggled with its serve midway through, giving away four points on errors, but came through in the end on a Kotikova cross court shot to seal a 25-20 win.

Russia wasted no time staking its claim on Set 3, scoring the first five points with Lyubushkina at the end line. The Russians maintained the five-point edge at 16-11, but the DR was not done yet, rallying again, but falling short in the end.


Poland def. Japan 3-2

  • Poland defeated Japan 18-25, 25-15, 25-16, 21-25, 16-14
  • Poland moved to 7-6 (19 points); Japan moved to 6-7 (17 points)

Malwina Smarzek notched 33 points to lift Poland past Japan in a tiebreak match for its seventh victory of VNL play. The opposite has now racked up more than 300 points for the tournament (322), 84 more than her nearest competitor (Tijana Boskovic, Serbia, 238).

Smarzek downed 29 kills and added a team-best four blocks. She had help from Natalia Medrzyk (16), Agnieszka Kakolewksa (14), Martyna Grajber (11) and Zuzanna Efimienko-Mlotkowska (9). Medrzyk tacked on 12 kills, a team-high three aces and a block, while Kakolewska accounted for 10 putaways and a team-high four blocks. Grajber chimed in with eight kills, two blocks and an ace and Efimienko-Mlotkowska put up three stuffs and six kills.

Sarina Koga paced Japan with 19 points on 15 kills and a team-high four aces despite missing the fifth set. Haruyo Shimamura and Ai Kurogo added in 14 points apiece. Kurogo’s points all came on kills, while Shimamura put up a team-high six aces and downed eight kills. Yuki Ishii scored seven points, while playing in the first three sets, while Risa Shinnabe managed five in just the final two stanzas.

For the match, Poland outdid Japan in kills (67-57) and blocks (15-7). The Japanese had help from 26 Polish errors, while giving up 18 points on miscues. Both teams served up five aces in the marathon match.

The teams played to a 10-all deadlock in Set 5. Smarzek gave Poland a slight edge, but Japan countered to tie it up at 13. In the end, a service error and a hitting error were the difference in a 16-14 result in favor of Poland.

Japan led by one at the second technical timeout of the match and built the margin to five at 22-17 behind Koga, who later tooled the block for the 25-18 win.

Kakolewska’s block came to life and Poland shored up its passing in Set 2 as the team responded with a 25-15 win. Medrzyk sealed the 10-point victory with an ace.

Japan countered in Set 3, taking an early lead, but Smarzek was too hot to handle and put the Polish side up 20-13. Medrzyk took over after that and closed out a 25-16 win.

Smarzek had a foot save for a kill in Set 4, but even that bit of luck and a 10-5 lead was not enough to give Poland an insurmountable advantage. Koga served up six straight points to cut the margin to one at 17-16. Kurogo finished the rally at 25-21 to send the match to a fifth-set.

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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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