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Netherlands prevail in close-fought contest with Czechs

The Netherlands' Laura Dijkema celebrates as her side win their first match against the Czech Republic

Hamamatsu, Japan, October 29, 2010 – The Netherlands won a hard-fought match against a valiant Czech Republic team in straight sets (26-24, 25-20, 25-14) in the opening Pool B match of the first round of the 2010 FIVB Women’s World Championship at Hamamatsu Arena in Japan on Friday.

FIVB Women's World Championship Japan 2010 official page

Manon Flier’s swooping spikes from all over the court ultimately gave the Netherlands a narrow edge in a close match which could have gone the Czechs' way in two opening sets spiced with lead changes, hustle plays and long rallies.
The first set was closely contested from start to finish. The Czechs took an early 12-9 lead, but the Netherlands came back to tie it at 15-all on a Flier spike. After a timeout, the Netherlands seized a 17-16 edge on a thundering spike and solid block by Ingrid Visser. Another Flier spike from the right wing broke a 22-all deadlock but the Czechs then blocked back to tie again at 23 and took the lead when the Dutch mishandled a serve. Manon's spike restored parity once more, though, and the Netherlands duly took advantage of Lucie Muhlsteinova's missed spike as they clinched the set 26-24 on their own serve.
The second set was similarly close with several lead changes and long rallies. The Netherlands raced to a 4-1 lead as Nicole Koolhaas put away an easy sitter. The Czechs came back, however, and tied at nine-all on a block by Ivana Plchotova. The Czechs gained momentum, taking leads of 12-10 and 16-14, but were pegged back again at 16 each. Although Helena Havelkova failed to handle Visser's knuckleball serve, her team fought back to tie again at 18 yet that would be as good as it got for the Czechs. After a long point featuring diving saves and one-hand bumps on both sides, Caroline Wensink's spike gave the Netherlands a 21-19 lead. A block by Kim Staelens then extended the advantage to 23-20, and after Aneta Havlickova netted a backcourt spike, the Dutch captured a terrific set 25-20 on a Visser block.
After two near misses, the Czech stayed strong early in the third set but a swooping backcourt spike from Flier gave Avital Selinger's team a 5-3 lead which they extended to 8-3 and 10-3, forcing timeouts at both junctures. With such a long way to come back, the Czechs lost steam and fell behind 16-6. Jiri Siller's side fought a long point at 17-6 but were eventually undone by yet another Flier spike, and the Netherlands surged on, extending their lead from 20-8 to 23-11 before finally taking the match at 25-15. The Czech Republic next face a daunting assignment with Brazil on Saturday, while the Netherlands will face a strong Italy side.

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