FIVB - Volleyball World Grand Prix


Oranjes stand Caribbean storm to progress to final match

Dutch setter Femke Stoltenborg erupts in joy; the Dutch had to fight for two and a half sets but eventually had the upper hand over their opponents from Puerto Rico to progress to the final match of the FIVB Volleyball World Grand Prix Group 2

Koszalin, Poland, August 15, 2014 – Though Puerto Rico fought bravely for two and a half sets, the Netherlands eventually imposed their class to claim a 3-1 victory (22-25, 31-29, 25-20, 25-12) in the second semi-final match of the 2014 FIVB Volleyball World Grand Prix Group 2 Final Four at Hala Widowiskowo – Sportowa in Koszalin.

On Sunday the “Oranjes” will play their neighbours from Belgium in the final scheduled for 8:15 pm local time, with the winners booking a ticket to next week’s Final Six in Tokyo, Japan. The players around head coach Gido Vermeulen could stand the pressure in a very dramatic second set and with the help of their superstar Manon Flier eventually got the right to challenge Belgium for the sole ticket at stake to make the “big finals” coming up in Japan. Sunday’s final match will be a remake of the game that the Netherlands and Belgium played last week in Doetinchem; though the “Oranjes” scored a 3-0 victory back then, this time around the “Yellow Tigers” will be a much harder nut to crack also for Flier & Co.

• With this victory, the Netherlands improved their win-loss record in World Grand Prix matches with Puerto Rico to 3-1.

• The Netherlands got their revenge from last week’s defeat to Puerto Rico in Doetinchem where the Caribbean team had come back from two sets down to eventually win at the tie-break.

• The “Oranjes” improved their record in the 2014 FIVB Volleyball World Grand Prix to nine victories in ten matches.

• The Netherlands are the only team competing in the Group 2 Finals to have medalled in the FIVB Volleyball World Grand Prix before. They won gold in the 2007 edition whose Finals were held in Ningbo, China.

In the first set the Dutch quickly took the lead 6-3 and Puerto Rico's head coach Jose Mieles stopped the game for a time-out. It did not stop the Netherlands, though, and they took five more unanswered points (11-3). The Puerto Ricans managed to regain their focus, even though it seemed to be too late for them to storm back and catch the opponents (16-8 at the second technical time-out, then 20-12). However, they put up a good fight as they scored a series of consecutive points (from 20-12 to 20-16), then managed to level the score at 21-21 and even to take the lead. After a spectacular end of the set they were the ones celebrating at 25-22.

Set 2 was close from the very beginning. Both teams were much focused and refused to let their rivals take the lead. The score swayed from one side to the other (8-6 for the Netherlands at the first technical time-out, but then 10-8 for the Puerto Ricans) and neither team gained the desired advantage. In the final stages of the set the play continued on a point-by-point basis, but eventually the Dutch showed more determination and took the set 31-29 after coach Vermeulen changed setter and opposite to opt for Laura Dijkema and superstar Manon Flier.

The Netherlands carried the momentum from the second set into the next one and took the lead at 8-5. They remained ahead, but the Puerto Ricans got closer (13-12) with two aces from Karina Ocasio. However, the Netherlands jumped ahead again (17-14, then 19-15) and maintained control over the set, which they picked up 25-20, setting the overall score at 2-1.

In set 4 the Dutch only proved their superiority over Puerto Rico. They quickly gained a four-point advantage (6-2) forcing the Puerto Rican coach Mieles into an early time-out. This did not help his team, though, as the Netherlands scored another series of unanswered points (14-3). The Dutch were unstoppable, they dominated in every element. Without much trouble they romped into victory at 25-12 in the set to close the match.

This victory opened the door to the final match for the “Oranjes” where they will face Belgium. The Puerto Ricans will challenge the hosts Poland and fight for the bronze medal of the 2014 FIVB Volleyball World Grand Prix Group 2.
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