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Bjelica stars as Serbia closes out first round with 3-0 win over Puerto Rico

 
Hamamatsu, Japan, October 4, 2018 - Ana Bjelica dominated as Serbia closed out Pool D play with a perfect 5-0 record with a 3-0 (25-23, 25-17, 27-25) victory over Puerto Rico at the FIVB Women's World Championship on Thursday afternoon.

Bjelica tallied a match-high 19 points in the victory.

Tijana Malesevic and Bojana Milenkovic added seven points each for the winners.

Daly Santana scored 18 points to lead Puerto Rico in the loss.

Serbia entered the final match of the opening round with a 4-0 record and not having dropped a set.

Puerto Rico came into the contest with a 2-2 mark.

Serbia's high block was problematic for Puerto Rico throughout the match. The Serbia attack gained steam with each set.

Puerto Rico battled hard in the opening and final sets.

Serbia started reserve players and got off the mark quickly, racing out to an 8-4 lead at the first TTO after a spike by Jovana Stevanovic. Puerto Rico came back to even the score at 10-10 on a soft tap by Neira Ortiz. They took the lead 12-11 on a nice spike by Neira Ortiz. The set remained close until Serbia went up 19-18 after a Puerto Rico spike was wide. Serbia held the lead and claimed the set on a 25-23 on a block. Both sides played well in the competitive set.

The Serbs again moved out to a 4-1 advantage early in the second set and were up 8-4 at the first TTO as their attack kicked into gear. Serbia scored repeatedly from the wings. The match was halted with Serbia leading 9-8 after Milenkovic came down awkwardly on her left knee after a spike and had to leave the game. Serbia boosted their lead to 15-10 after the match resumed via a strong attack. A flying spike by Bjelica made it 18-12. The Puerto Rico defense became more porous as the set progressed. Serbia took the set 25-

The final set began much like the first two, with Serbia jumping to a 6-0 lead. Puerto Rico pulled within 8-6 on a reception error by Serbia. Bjelic put Serbia ahead 13-8 by directing a soft tap into open space in the Puerto Rican defense. Puerto Rico made a late run, equalizing at 18-18 after the Serbs committed some unforced errors. Puerto Rico moved ahead 20-19 after a spike was blocked and went back over the Serb defense for a point. Puerto Rico's attack gained momentum as the Serb offense stagnated. Serbia scored three straight points for match point at 24-23. Puerto Rico tied it 24-24, but a serve went long and Serbia had a second match point but could not convert. Bjelica blased a spike and Serbia had a third match point at 26-25. Bjelica gave Serbia the set and match 27-25 with a block.


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