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Dutch and Czech teams seal volleyball victories in Mangaung
- Updated: December 19, 2014
The Netherlands and Czech Republic were the respective men’s and women’s winners at the FIVB Mangaung Open in Bloemfontein.
Netherlands beat Chile in the final while Czech Republic beat Japan to earn the gold medals.
Final score in the men’s match was 21-18 21-18 while the women’s match was sealed at 21-15 21-16.
With the threat of an imminent downpour the much awaited men’s clash between Netherlands and dark horses Chile got off to a brisk start with both teams using a total onslaught strategy to unsettle each other.
Netherlands’ 2.12-metres tall Christiaan Varenhorst and his hard hitting partner, Reinder Nummerdor took the fight to the newcomers at this level of competition, Esteban Grimalt and cousin, Marco Grimalt.
The ensuing battle caused great excitement among the spectators. Sadly the exciting encounter was temporarily halted by the referee because of steady rain.
The centre court battle resumed when the players returned after a 25-minute delay. Giving very little away both teams went for the jugular. When Varenhorst stopped the Chilean attackers twice in a row it signalled the end of the Chilean attempts to win the set. Nummerdor and Varenhorst fought all the way from a 17-17 score line to win the first set with a 21-18 margin.
The tightly contested second set brought the best out of the players in attack, block and cover play. The score board was kept ticking evenly and the fans joined in the action with cat calls, whistling and words of encouragement to urge on their favourite teams.
At 10-10, two successive blocks by Marco Grimalt stopped the speedy Nummerdor dead in his tracks. Chile grabbed a 12-10 lead. Confusion in receiving service seemed to have upset the Chileans who went on to commit a further unforced error that brought the Netherlands back into contention at 14-14.
Esteban, Reinder and Christiaan excited the fans with their trade mark power attacks that demonstrated their attacking prowess. At 18-18 Lady Luck smiled on the Netherlands as they picked up three points in a row to close proceedings to ascend the winners’ podium.
In the women’s match 23-year-old Czech Republic’s ‘wonder-woman’, Martina Bonnerova was too hot to handle in a thrill-a-minute women’s gold medal match against Japan. Bonnerova and partner, Barbora Hermannova combined well to earn them victory over Takemi Nishibori and Sayaka Mizoe.
While the Czech duo mixed power and deft touches in to open spaces to put quick points on the board their counterparts stuck to a game plan of directing every attack into the far corners of the Czech’s back court making Bonnerova scramble around to keep the ball alive and stay focused on the job at hand.
A change in game plan saw the Czechs emulating their Japanese counterparts by making them work hard to recover the dink and poke shots that were placed away from their reach. Capitalising on their change in strategy Bonnerova and Hermannova combined well to streak ahead with a 15-10 score. With Bonnerova on fire with her quick whipping hand action spikes the Japanese fell behind by a 17-10 margin.
Great rallies had the spectators salivating for more of the superb display of attacking volleyball and the endless pursuits to recover balls that were directed into unguarded spaces of the back court. The local fans loved every minute of the action that they were fortunate to witness for the first time in their part of the world.
When Japan’s Mizoe picked up three points in a row the Czech duo were given a rude wake up call. A further two points brought the Japanese closer to cause an upset victory. But when Bonnerova stepped up to take the lion’s share of the attack it brought an end to their opponents’ strategy of causing an upset win. Bonnerova spearheaded the 21-15 score line to end the first set.
Taking a 10-7 lead in the 2nd set the Czech ladies were on course to wrap up proceedings in the shortest possible time. But a mixture of powerful attacks and the selective use of well placed dinks saw the Japanese announcing their fight back.
A few unforced service errors further dampened the spirits of the Czech team. To boost their waning confidence Bonnerova put in a sparkling attacking performance to put the final out of the reach of their Asian counterparts.
At a post match interview Martina and Barbora assured their new found fans that they will be back next year to defend their title at Mangaung.