Osaka, Japan, November 6, 2007: Korea ended a run of three straight defeats at the FIVB World Cup 2007 by beating wild card Dominican Republic 3-1 at Namihaya Dome on Tuesday.
Korea won 26-24, 22-25, 25-20, 25-21 to improve their win-loss record to 1-3 after four of the 11 rounds, dropping the Dominicans to the same mark.
The Koreans made a nightmare start, calling a TO after losing the first three points, scoring their first point at 5-0 down and going into the first TTO at 8-1.
Inevitably Bethania de la Cruz led the Dominican onslaught, and when her bullet serve looped back over the net, Nuris Arias was there to gobble up another easy point.
Kim Yeon-Koung clicked into gear on the Korean left to lift the spirits of her team, but the Dominican Republic have plenty of firepower besides De la Cruz, as both Arias and middle blocker Cindy Rondon hit the target with power-packed spikes.
A whiplash attack from De la Cruz up the left flank made it 13-10, before Bae Yoo-Na countered at the net and on the right on successive points to keep Korea in touch. The Dominicans led 16-13 at the second TTO, and when this grew to 18-13 the Koreans took a second TO.
Thanks to Kim, Korea closed the gap to 18-15, forcing Dominican Republic into their first TO. Cosiri Rodriguez drove her team forward with a languid winner up the right, and then added a service ace.
The digging of Kwak Mi-Ran helped Korea close to 21-20, at which point the Dominicans took their second TO with their lead reduced to one point.
In an exciting finish to the first set, Han Song-Yi pushed Korea to two set points at 24-22 with two consecutive spikes from 22-22. Korea missed them both before clinching it 26-24 on their third attempt with a winner from Han Yoo-Mi on the left.
The Dominicans jumped into a 5-2 lead in the second set but poor reception and strong Korean blocking allowed the Asians to battle back to nudge ahead 6-5, forcing coach Cruz into a TO.
Milagros Cabral resumed with a crashing spike down the middle, but Kim -- 10 spikes in the first set alone -- took the Koreans into the first TTO with a one-point advantage, 8-7.
The prolific Kim continued to blaze away on the Korean left, scoring constantly despite being heavily marked and despite improved ground defence on the other side of the net. Cabral blocked Bae and Echenique served another ace to force a Korea TO, even though they led 15-13. The setter did just the same on the resumption, the swirling ball confusing the Korean defence, and Rodriguez blasted the Dominicans into an unlikely one-point lead at the second TTO, 16-15.
Rondon swatted a trademark winner at the net for 22-20, Cabral blocked Kim for 23-20, and De la Cruz brought up set point at 24-21. Rodriguez finished it 25-22 for 1-1.
In the third set, the Dominicans lost their accuracy and trailed 6-2, forcing Cruz into an early TO, and he was even more frustrated when a gentle serve from Han Yoo-Mi brought an ace and the first TTO with Korea in front 8-4.
Flying defence from Han Yoo-Mi allowed Kim to keep the points flowing, but even Han could not stop a thundering blow from Rondon off a quick, short set from Echenique.
Han then showed her spiking skills with a wristy winner on the left as the Koreans moved to 14-8, only for De la Cruz to counter with some flashing kills of her own. At 16-12, Korea still had a few points to play with at the second TTO.
Rodriguez gave Kim a hard stare after one of the Korean's attacks on the left was rejected, but the Dominicans needed a TO down 20-14 following a Kim Se-Young block on the right.
Han Yoo-Mi took Korea to set point at 24-18, and the same player closed it out with a gentle push for 25-20, 2-1 Korea.
Sensing their first victory of the World Cup after three defeats in Tokyo, the Koreans began the fourth frame in noisy fashion, racing into a 3-0 lead. A Dominican TO did the trick, and Cruz's team moved ahead 4-3 with a Cabral block on Ji Jung-Hee.
Returning from a Korea TO, Lisvel Eve did the same to Han Yoo-Mi, but the Koreans held a two-point lead at the first TTO, 8-6.
An acrobatic right-handed dig from libero Carmen Caso enabled De la Cruz to score a spectacular winner down the middle, but Kim continued to find gaps on the Dominican court with a mixture of power and placement. Han Yoo-Mi crashed another winner at the net for 12-9 as the Koreans attempted to avoid a tiebreaker.
Han was flying in the fourth set, helping Korea into a useful five-point lead, 16-11, at the second TTO.
A wild spike from Cabral, looking for the left sideline, left Dominican Republic trailing 19-14 and in need of a TO, with the Koreans six points from their first victory.
Cabral had not given up hope, though, and thrashed one extraordinary winner from the left. With their lead down to four, 20-16, Korea took a TO.
Ji brought up match point 24-19, and Han finished it from the back court, 25-21.