Brazilian teamwork came to play as it eclipsed Serbia in a battle of unbeaten teams and anchored a 3-1 (25-20, 25-16, 23-25, 25-19) win on Saturday to claim Pool A leadership with four straight victories at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.
Brazil remain undefeated, ROC upset USA
Outstanding 4-0 winning run continues for South Americans
Publicado 04:31, 31 Jul 2021
While the Serbian offence was focused on Tijana Boskovic, who logged a match-high of 32 points, Brazil went for good collaboration between their players in offence and defence.
Wing players Tandara Caixeta, Fe Garay and Gabi Guimaraes helped their side with 19, 17 and 12 markers, respectively. The contribution of their other teammates Carol Gattaz and Anna Carolina Da Silva in defence further enhanced their performance to subdue the reigning world champions. Setter Roberta Ratzke also replaced Macris Carneiro to good effect.
“To be first in the group is very important because that is what we planned from the start. This victory gives us a lot of confidence,” Tandara said.
“We are happy to win against Serbia because they are a strong team. We were well-prepared against them. I didn’t have a good performance in the last three matches, but I am happy that I am able to serve and block, and help my team,” Tandara added.
ROC also delivered a big upset on Saturday as they beat the United States 3-0 (25-20, 25-12, 25-19, with Nataliya Goncharova tallying 24 attacks and two blocks to lead the charge and end an unbeaten run by their opponents.
Goncharova’s teammates Arina Fedorovtseva and Irina Voronkova put USA into deeper trouble with their 13- and 11-point performances, while their opponents were held to single digits with captain Jordan Larson and middle blocker Haleigh Washington only managing to get seven points each.
ROC overwhelmed their rivals in all scoring skill categories and registered 47 attacks, 13 blocks and six aces to snap the winning streak of their rivals.
“I have to give ROC a ton of credit because they just had a sharp, clean game of volleyball,” USA coach Karch Kiraly said.
“The hallmark of our game is our ability to respond when the other team is serving, and that we control that serve, run our offence, take lots of good swings and win that sideout point. Our sideout game got really disrupted and broken down today by their serve, block and defence.”
The ROC scoring trio controlled the pace of the team’s offence, while Jordan Thompson and Michelle Bartsch-Hackley ran the offence of the USA side in the opening set.
In the second set, USA suffered a big blow as they lost an important player through injury. Thompson sprained her ankle at the start of the set, which affected the team's focus on the game, while ROC just executed their game plan to perfection and took the next two sets to win the match.
“She’s done a really nice job in this tournament so far. We are hoping to get her back. The word I got during the match is that it is not a major ankle sprain, somewhere between mild and medium, but we will learn more once they do what is standard and that is take an x-ray, take an MRI to know more about the extent of it,” Kiraly said.
In the all-Asian clash between hosts Japan and Korea, it was the visiting side that prevailed in the nail-biting tiebreaker.
Kim Yeon Koung spoiled Sarina Koga’s comeback with a 30-point performance to lead the Korean team to win 3-2 (25-19, 19-25, 25-22, 15-25, 16-14) against Japan.
While Kim was the likely hero of the match with her high-scoring output, it was outside hitter Park Jeongah who delivered the final blow to snatch the win for the Koreans.
Park finished with 15 points and hit the important equaliser (14-all). Korea grabbed the lead off an error by Mayu Ishikawa, before Park’s swing sealed the match win for Korea.
Koga and Ishikawa led Japan with 27 and 23 points.
“We prepared well for this match. Our service, blocking and hitting high balls were our strong points against Japan.” Park Jeongah said.
“I feel really good because we were able to advance to the next round. I felt relieved after converting on two hits, because that was the key to the next stage. There was pressure in every set, but we felt the highest pressure in the fifth set. But we just wanted to win this match so bad that we just played and worked hard for every point.”
Turkey got back on the winning track, following their 3-0 (25-23, 25-20, 25-18) victory over Argentina.
The Turkish team had a good contribution from Hande Baladin who top scored with 14 points and got help from middle blockers Eda Erdem and Zehra Gunes who made 13 and 12 points, and young opposite Ebrar Karakurt who also scored 12. But on the Argentina side, it was only Erika Mercado who breached the double-digit mark with 12.
“I am glad to bounce back with a good performance in this match and I hope it will just get better from this point on,” Karakurt said.
“This is an important match for us and even though we didn’t start the way we wanted, we still played our best."
The Dominican Republic’s defence was on point in their sensational straight-sets (25-19, 25-18, 25-10) success against Kenya, also picking up their first win in the tournament.
In offence, the Dominicans had better point production from the attack and service lines than their rivals, scoring 34 and seven aces in the match. Lisvel Elisa Eve Mejia was their best net defender, as she mounted six of their 13 total blocks on the Kenyan attackers.
Mejia also top scored for her team with 13 markers, and Prisila Rivera added 12 in the victory, while Leonida Kasaya and Sharon Chepchumba Kiprono helped Kenya with nine and eight points, respectively.
In the final match of the day, China denied Italy of their fourth win through a 3-0 (25-21, 25-20, 26-24) victory.
The Asian side showed a lot of confidence in the game and responded well to counter the strong Italian offence. Even with the lack of firepower resulting from Zhu Ting not seeing action in the match, the Chinese side benefitted from the many errors of their opponents.
“We just wanted to play our best and focus on the match. We did not want to pressure ourselves, and I think that showed with the way we played against Italy,” China player Zhang Changning said.
“The team performed relaxed today, especially our younger players. It was unexpected that we could not advance to the quarterfinal stage and I have to say that is my responsibility as head coach,” Coach Lang Ping added.
On the final day of the women’s preliminaries, Serbia and Korea will play the opening match at 9.00, and USA and Italy face-off at 11.05. ROC will face European rivals Turkey at 14.20, then China will meet Argentina at 16.25.
In the evening, the Olympic hosts will clash with the Dominican Republic at 19.40, and two-time Olympic champions Brazil and Kenya will close the preliminary round with their encounter at 21.45.