Poland and Belgium rout Switzerland and Spain on opening day in Lodz
2014 FIVB Volleyball World Championship - Women
Lodz, Poland, January 3, 2014. On Friday, Poland and Belgium started their campaign for making the Final Round of the 2014 FIVB Women’s Volleyball World Championship at the Atlas Arena in Lodz with two straight victories over Switzerland and Spain respectively. With some of their most glorious players back in action the hosts easily disposed of the young Swiss team (25-14, 25-15, and 25-9) while last year’s European bronze medalist Belgium also did not find much resistance from a Spanish team that has undergone many changes in recent times (25-20, 25-18, and 25-12). The actions will continue Saturday as Belgium plays Switzerland and Poland gets to test the likes of Spain before the anticipated final showdown on Sunday where the red-and-white hosts will take on the Yellow Tigers.
On Friday afternoon, the 2013 European bronze medalists of Belgium routed Spain in straight sets (25-20, 25-18, and 25-12) to start their quest for making it to the Final Round of the 2014 FIVB Women’s Volleyball World Championship.
The score swayed from side to side throughout the first set, both teams took a series of points at a time (first 5:2 for Belgium, but later the score moved to 10:6 for Spain). Belgium played very well in blocking making it difficult for the opponents to break through and after a fierce fight the Yellow Tigers were the ones celebrating at the end of the first set (25-20).
In the second set, the Belgians carried the momentum and quickly jumped ahead (11:5, 16:8 at the second technical time-out). They remained on top throughout the set and easily picked it up at 25-18, setting the overall score at 2-0.
At the beginning of set three, the score stayed close, but Belgium once again took control and jumped to a four-point advantage at 10:6. They remained in charge, not letting Spain catch up with them (16:9 at the second mandatory stop, then 21:10). Spain head coach Pascual Saurin made a series of substitutions in the set, but these did not change the image of the game. Belgium was too strong as they romped into victory 25-12 in the set and 3-0 in the entire match after only 65 minutes.
“It was a difficult game in many ways,” said Belgium head coach Gert Vande Broek. “It was our first official match after the European Championship. Many people expect a lot from us, we are under a lot of pressure from the fans and the media. Spain have a new team, we did not know their technique and strategy. We made many mistakes in the first set, but later we corrected some things and took control of the game. The final score, 3-0, does not mean it was easy. The Spanish team took risks and made it difficult for us.”
Poland and Switzerland took the stage at 8:30 pm local time to begin their fight. Three double-European Champions were leading the Polish team in the starting line-up. The match began with a neck-to-neck race until Katarzyna Skowronska-Dolata of Poland stepped into the serving position helping her team get a four-point lead at the first technical time-out. The hosts later increased the advantage to impressive 13 points at 20:7 and did not give their opponents a chance. Poland took the set very comfortably at 25-14.
Switzerland started the next set highly concentrated and managed to score a two-point lead at 4:2. Nevertheless, the hosts quickly regained focus and jumped ahead 10:6, thanks to some powerful spikes and good blocks. They maintained control of the operations throughout the set and showed their domination by picking up the set 25-15. It was clear that Poland had the advantage of experience and height over their opponents.
The last set was just a formality. The hosts once again quickly gained a large advantage (even 10 points at 14:4) and refused to lose their grip on it until the end of the set, which they took 25-9. They were superior in every element, especially in blocking and serving.
“The Polish team showed us what the level of one of the world’s best teams is,” said Switzerland head coach Timo Lippuner. “They played with a lot of power and served very well, they scored series of points with the latter. It was a great opportunity for us to learn.”
On Saturday Belgium will face Switzerland (5:30 pm local time), while Spain will take on the hosts of Poland later in the evening.
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