China and Serbia set up showdown after both teams recorded wins

The FIVB Women’s Volleyball Nations League (VNL) – Macao 2018, organized by the Sports Bureau of Macao SAR Government and the Volleyball Association of Macao, China, and presented by Galaxy Entertainment Group (GEG), is into the second day (23 May) at the Macao Forum.  Serbia continued its winning ways by defeating Poland (20-25, 27-25, 26-24, 25-15) while China handed Thailand its second loss of the week (25-23, 26-24, 22-25, 25-17).

In the first match of the day, the Polish defense set the tone in set one with Agnieszka Kakolewska and Zuzanna Efimienko-Mlotkowska putting up block after block, helping their team take a quick 20-10 lead. The Serbians switched tactics and did manage to close to within four points of Poland but it was too little too late as Poland took the set 25-20.

Serbia responded in set two, jumping out to an early 6-2 lead due primarily to Brankica Mihajlovic whose powerful jump serve helped account for four of those points. The Serbs claimed a 13-6 lead but then a stretch of uninspired play allowed Poland to close within three points at the second technical timeout. Serbia could not maintain this lead as the Polish side fought back to tie the match at 23-23. The teams traded points until a passing error by Poland allowed Serbia to close out the set 27-25.

Set three was a closely contested affair with neither team being able to build any kind of significant lead. Poland used some strong blocking to grab a 19-16 lead but the Serbians responded with four straight points to regain the lead. Both sides traded points until a Polish passing error handed the Serbs the ball and they quickly put the overpass down to secure the set 26-24.

The Polish squad appeared deflated at the start of set four and the Serbians took advantage by powering to a 15-6 lead. The Polish team was unable to recover and Serbia closed out the set 25-15.

Brankica Mihajlovic led Serbia with 13 spikes, 3 aces and 1 block. Agnieszka Kakolewska was the top performer for Poland with 8 spikes, 2 aces and 5 blocks.

With the home crowd’s support, there was a definite energy in the air and the Chinese team fed off of that to jump out to an early 6-2 lead in set one. The Thailand players kept their composure and put on a fine display of volleyball that allowed them to take a 16-11 lead at the first technical timeout. The Chinese responded with several impressive attacks and regained the lead at 20-19 when Liu Xiaotong powered down a huge attack from the back row. Thailand stayed close but China did not relinquish its lead and took the set 25-23.

China was the more consistent side at the start of set two, grabbing a 12-8 lead and forcing Thailand to take an early time out. Thailand regrouped courtesy of Nootsara Tomkom whose serve helped her side score six consecutive points and grab the lead at 14-12. Neither side could develop any significant advantage until late when Thailand took a three point lead at 23-20. The Chinese team battled back with four straight points of their own to regain the lead and then held off their opponents to close out the set 26-24.

Thailand started strong in set three and cruised to a 10-3 lead. This prompted the Chinese coach to substitute the starting setter and her team responded with more inspired play. Hu Mingyuan provided three huge blocks in a short time span to bring her team to within four points of Thailand. The Chinese side continued to battle back eventually trailing by only one point. The Thailand players didn’t lose their focus this time and took the set 25-22.

It was team China that came out more determined in set four, jumping out to a 16-7 lead. Ding Xia was back in as setter and the well-balanced Chinese attack had the Thailand defenders struggling to side out. China extended its lead to 20-12 and then cruised to take the set 25-17.

Liu Xiaotong led China with 15 spikes and 2 aces. Moksri Chatchu-On was the top performer for Thailand with 12 spikes and 2 aces.

Poland takes on Thailand in tomorrow’s early match at 1730 while Serbia goes up against China at 2000 to wrap up play in Macao.