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Croatia down Kazakhstan for second win

Croatia defeated Kazakhstan and its destiny depends on how Cuba do against undefeated USA in the last match of the day at Matsumoto

Matsumoto, Japan, November 3, 2010 – Croatia picked up their second win in Group C at the FIVB Women’s World Championship in Matsumoto on Wednesday, overcoming Kazakhstan 3-0 (25-19, 25-17, 25-18). Croatia improved their record to 2-3, while Kazakhstan ended the first round without a win.

The effective blocking of the Croatian side was one of the keys for the victory as they established a 9-3 margin in that category. Maja Poljak was the best scorer for Croatia with 12 points while Sanja Popovic and Ivana Milos added 11 and 10 respectively. Olga Drobyshevskaya notched 12 for Kazakhstan.

After Kazakhstan dropped four straight points early on to fall three points behind at 6-3, coach Nelli Chsherbakova called a timeout to settle her players down. Sana Jarlagassova stopped the rot temporarily at 3-7, but the Croatians were spiking well and were better organised than their opponents. Sanja Popovic landed some hefty blows for Croatia, but all their attackers made good contributions.

Kazakhstan struggled through the mid-section of the first set, but Jarlagassova and Olga Drobyshevskaya brought them back into the game, and they were able to pull back from 10-18 to within three points at 21-18 after a service ace by Korinna Ishimtseva. Two tip-overs by Popovic gave Croatia the advantage again, a long serve by Drobyshevskaya brought up set-point and a weak spike by Poljak was enough to put Croatia one set up.
A similar pattern continued at the start of the second set, with Croatia spiking strongly – Mia Jerkov and Senna Usic Jogunica to the fore – and Kazakhstan making errors. But after falling five points back at the first technical timeout, Kazakhstan dug in with Drobyshevskaya contributing three good shots and Ishimtseva adding a service ace. With Kazakhstan closing to within two points at 12-10, Croatian coach Miroslav Aksentijevic called a timeout and his players then eased out to a four-point margin at the second TTO.

Some poor play by Kazakhstan stretched Croatia's lead to seven points, prompting Chsherbakova to haul her players off court again. Drobyshevskaya came up with a huge hit and a fabulous block on Usic Jogunica, and Ishimtseva blocked Jerkov as Kazakhstan staged a late, but futile rally. Big hits by Usic Jogunica and Popovic ended the set and put Croatia 2-0 up.
Croatia went off the boil at the beginning of set three and Kazakhstan found themselves three points clear at the first TTO. Ivana Milos helped bring Croatia back into the set with successive first-time shots at the net and three points earned from great defence brought them level at 12-12. They went ahead on a service ace by Milos and were four points ahead at the second TTO.

Their eight-point run ended with a spike by Matveyeva, and Jarlagassova followed up with a monster hit. But Poljak responded in kind and Marina Miletic followed up with an impressive block on Matveyeva to give Croatia some breathing space. A spike by Milos brought up match-point and Ana Grbac sealed the win after winning a face-off at the net with Yuliya Kutsko.

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