Tokyo, Japan, August 20, 2009: The Netherlands held off Germany 3-2 in the first match of the second day of the World Grand Prix Final Round at Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium on Thursday afternoon.
The Dutch improved to 2-0 with a 19-25, 25-21, 25-22, 21-25, 15-13 victory, dropping Germany to 1-1 at the end of an epic Euro encounter.
For the Germans, libero Kerstin Tzscherlich was making her 300th appearance, and her teammates made a great start and sped into an 8-2 lead at the first TTO. The Dutch serve reception was weak, conceding aces to Kathleen Weiss and Heike Beier (2), and captain Christiane Furst seized on everything at the net.
When play resumed, a Debby Stam block on Corina Ssuschke held up the Germans’ progress, and Stam then broke through on the left to draw the Dutch closer.
When it was Ssuschke’s turn to beat the Dutch defence with another floating serve, coach Avital Selinger took off his team for a TO trailing 12-7.
Stam suffered under the block of Furst, and the Netherlands responded by sending on Alice Blom for Chaine Staelens at 14-7. Blom was quickly into the groove, mixing power and placement to pull the Dutch round to 14-11, at which point the Germans took a TO.
Leading 16-13 at the second TTO, Germany advanced with a Furst block on Caroline Wensink and another ace from Beier, sending the Netherlands into a TO down 18-13.
Germany’s excellent defence and reception allowed Margareta Kozuch to strike on the right, and Beier finished off a spirited counter by pushing one into space for 23-15. Maren Brinker brought up eight set points at 24-16, and coach Giovanni Guidetti called a TO when three of them disappeared. A serve error immediately on the restart ended it 25-19, Germany 1-0. Germany registered five aces in the first set, with a hat trick for Beier, and five blocks, including three for Furst.
In the second set, a back-court swoop and soaring spike from Manon Flier paved the way for a solid start, but the Dutch continued to suffer under the German serve, with Ssuschke adding her second ace.
A scrappy rally ended with Wensink pushing one into space to take the Dutch to 10-8, before Kozuch blocked Blom to keep Germany on pace.
A fiery Blom jump-serve was followed by a Wensink block on Ssuschke, and Germany called a TO trailing 14-11. The Dutch reached the second TTO with a four-point cushion on a Flier back-court cracker.
As the Germans tried to catch up, Beier was on the receiving end of a crashing block by Francien Huurman, before Blom capitalised on her own steady reception with a left-wing spike for 21-18.
When Germany pulled back to within one point, trailing 21-20, the Dutch needed a TO. Stam blocked Ssuschke to settle Dutch nerves, and Flier flashed one down the right for four set points at 24-20. When Beier fired into the net, the second set belonged to the Netherlands 25-21, 1-1. Blom had played a huge part in the Dutch renaissance, and had nine points after two sets with eight spikes and a block, while Flier had exploded with nine second-set points to take her tally to 15.
The Germans were looking a little tired at the start of the third set, whereas the Dutch were settling into a rhythm and playing with more confidence after a shaky start. Flier, Stam and Huurman picked off points that were simply not available earlier in the match, and the Dutch were in control at 8-4 at the first TTO.
When a wild attack left the Netherlands six points clear at 10-4, Germany called a TO. Beier tried to get Germany moving again, and Ssuschke recorded her third service ace on more poor reception.
Leading 16-13 at the second TTO, the Netherlands advanced with a Stam spike following energetic work on defence by Blom, and when Kozuch blazed long to leave Germany five points in arrears at 18-13, Germany coach Guidetti called a TO.
Huurman battered the Dutch forward, and Flier found an angle no one else could see from her tight position on the left, fizzing one across court.
Furst kept Germany in the hunt with a block on Flier, and Beier beat the Dutch block on the left to close the gap to one, 20-19, and send the Dutch into a TO.
Brinker tipped one over to bring Germany level 21-21, but a Kim Staelens block on Brinker gave the Dutch a crucial point to 23-21. Flier brought up two set points at 24-22, and Chaine Staelens’ dig flew over and struck the unlucky Kozuch to end it 25-22, 2-1 to the Netherlands.
In the fourth set, Germany started well and Furst pounced on a loose Dutch set to make it 4-2. When a Furst serve dropped in, Germany led 8-4 at the first TTO. Trailing 10-5, coach Selinger called a TO, and Kozuch greeted the Dutch on their return with another service ace.
The Germans had completely turned it round from the start of the third set, when the match looked to be slipping away from them, and now they had fixed their sights on a tiebreak.
A Kim Staelens dig and Chaine Staelens spike off the net cord closed the gap to 13-10, but the Germans had the momentum and reached the second TTO ahead 16-11.
Ingrid Visser tried to pep up the Dutch attack at the net, but Brinker was piling up the points on the German left flank. Leading 20-17 but losing their concentration and momentum, Germany called a TO in an effort to refocus and close the fourth set.
On the restart, a Furst block on Chaine Staelens dropped into a gaping hole on the Dutch court and had the team off again for a TO, trailing 22-17. The Dutch block tightened up, with Visser playing a big part, but Furst smashed Germany to set point at 24-21. When Flier was wide, the fourth set was Germany’s 25-21, 2-2. Germany now had nine service aces.
In the tiebreak, the Dutch forced Germany to play catch-up point by point, which the Germans did with a variety of counters on attack and defence.
Although a Blom block moved the Netherlands two ahead at 7-5, the gap was down to one again, 8-7, at the turnaround.
Brinker was on fire at this stage, keeping Germany in the race for the decider as the stalemate ran to 11-11. A Beier miss handed the Dutch a two-point cushion at 13-11, and Flier pounced for 14-12, two match points. Huurman won it 15-13 with a smash at the net.