Brazil (BRA) vs. Japan (JPN) women - Pool 3 - Preliminary Phase #16191009

Brazil’s Gabi on the serve against Japan

During the first three days of women’s 2024 Volleyball Nations League Pool 3 action, Brazil and Italy each won both of their matches in Macao and stand among the top three in the current standings. The South Americans top the table undefeated in six games, while the southern Europeans are in third place on a 5-1 win-loss record, with Poland in between in second on 5-0. Japan and hosts China have scored one win each in Macao so far and occupy fifth and fourth place, respectively. Thailand, on the other hand, registered their first VNL victory of the season.

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Brazil started their campaign in Macao with a hard-fought 3-2 (24-26, 26-24, 19-25, 25-20, 15-11) win over Japan on Tuesday. While the Asian team outplayed the South Americans in attack, what tilted the balance Brazil’s way were the blocking (15-9 in stuffs) and the serving (6-2 in aces). Outside hitter and captain Gabriela Guimaraes produced three of those aces to lead Brazil with 24 points. Her Japanese counterpart Sarina Koga hammered out the match high of 29 points, including a block and two aces. Her teammate Mayu Ishikawa also reached 20+ with 21 kills in attack and a kill block.

Netherlands fail to gain new ground in race towards Olympics

Brazil followed up with a 3-1 (25-17, 20-25, 25-20, 25-18) win over the Netherlands on Thursday, dominating on all scoring counts. This time another Brazilian outside, Ana Cristina de Souza, led the way with 19 points, while her Dutch counterpart Jolien Knollema was her team’s best scorer with 16 points.

It was the Netherlands’ second four-set loss in Macao, after suffering a 3-1 (21-25, 25-23, 25-23, 25-21) defeat at the hands of China on the previous day, so they have not made any progress in catching up with Canada in their race for a spot in the Paris 2024 qualifying zone of the FIVB World Ranking. The Dutch attacks produced way more points than those of the opponents, but the Europeans made twice as many unforced errors than the home team and that cost them the game. Dutch opposite Elles Dambrink was the best scorer of the match with 24 points, while middle blocker Yuan Xinyue led the winners with 17. The match was also marked by Chinese star Zhu Ting’s first appearance on the court after her return to the national team. She appeared in play as a substitution during the fourth set of the game. China are now fourth in the standings on a 4-1 win-loss record, while the Netherlands are ninth on 2-4.

Japan, on the other hand, recovered from their loss to Brazil with a 3-0 (25-14, 25-18, 25-15) shutout of VNL rookies France on Thursday, with a 19-point match high from Koga, further widening the gap from the next best Olympic candidate Canada in the World Ranking to almost 30 points. In the VNL standings, Japan take fifth place in 4-2.

Italy cruise on towards Paris

Further up the World Ranking and well in control of their destiny to gain qualification to the Olympics are Italy. They mastered two straight-set wins in Macao and added over 9 points to their World Ranking score consolidating their position as the highest ranked team without a ticket to Paris just yet.

Dominican Republic (DOM) vs. Italy (ITA) women - Pool 3 - Preliminary Phase #16247650

Paola Egonu on the serve

On Wednesday, the Italians hammered out a 3-0 (25-15, 25-14, 25-14) shutout of France, led by Paola Egonu with 13 points. With another stellar performance from the Italian opposite on Thursday, they achieved a 3-0 (25-12, 25-19, 25-21) sweep of their game against the Dominican Republic. Egonu fired four aces and raised three kill blocks to top the scorers’ chart of the match with a total of 20 points.

Thailand snatch first VNL win in 2024

The hosts of the VNL Finals, Thailand, finally celebrated their first win this season. In Tuesday’s opening match in Macao, they delivered a 3-1 (25-22, 20-25, 25-17, 26-24) victory over the Dominican Republic to improve to 1-4 in 14th place, right above France, who are 15th on 1-5. The Queens of the Caribbean stand in 10th place on 2-4. While middle blocker Hattaya Bamrungsuk led the winners with 17 points, Dominican opposite Gaila Gonzalez-Lopez topped the match chart with 20 points.

France and Thailand will lock horns in a battle for their second VNL win in Friday’s opening match at 12:30 local time (04:30 UTC). The Netherlands will take on the Dominican Republic at 16:00 (08:00). The competition day in Macao will close with a much anticipated edition of the all-time Asian classic between Japan and China at 19:30 (11:30).

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