Montreux, Switzerland, June 6, 2017- Argentina survived a major scare to clinch a 3-2 (25-22, 27-25, 14-25, 23-25, 15-19) victory against the Netherlands in their first ever appearance at the Montreux Volley Masters. Their trio of Wing Spiker Paula Yamila Nizetich, Opposite Lucia Fresco and Middle Blocker Emilce Sosa hit 55 points between them to eventually see off their more seasoned opponents in a nail-biting showdown in Pool B.
Argentina, competing at their first ever Montreux Masters, had all the early impetus to make an impression on the Montreux crowd. Las Panteras raced into a 16-9 lead over the Oranje, whose prior experience at the Montreux Volley Masters seemed to count for little. The Netherlands pegged their opponents back though, the debutants feeling the pressure despite a 24-22 advantage in the closing stages of the set. They eased their nerves by taking set-point 25-22 at the first time of asking, to draw first blood on their opening bow.
The second set opened in equally competitive nature, with both sides neck and neck at 7-7 before Argentina established an edge in a series of thrilling rallies, opening up a 15-10 lead with a splendid show of blocking and spiking. The Netherlands weren’t to go down easily though, with Wing Spiker Celeste Plak the driving force behind the Dutch as they levelled the set at 20-20. Yet they couldn’t find the extra spark required to overhaul their South American counterparts, and the Argentines clinched it 27-25 to go within a set of victory.
The Argentines could sense the win, but the Dutch were desperate to claw their way back into the tie and battled to an 8-7 lead in the third set. Celeste Plak was at the heart of the action once more, as the Oranje gained a foothold for the first time in the game and roared into a 17-9 lead. Having carved their way back into the match, their opponents tiring after their effort in the opening two sets, the Netherlands capitalised and comfortably saw out the set 25-14 to keep the game alive.
Yet the Oranje still had no margin for error, and knew they would have to take the set to restore parity and preserve their hopes of victory. The Dutch flew from the blocks only to be pegged back by the South Americans who seized an 11-8 advantage. Determined not to let the tie slip away, the Netherlands dug in and rallied to 21-21. Argentina sensed the win, and the Dutch an equalising set, and it was the latter who prevailed 25-23 to propel the game into a fifth-set for the first time at the 2017 edition.
Determined not to let victory slip through their fingers, Argentina fought their way into a 9-6 lead despite Plak’s spiking continuing to hammer away at their rearguard. But Paula Nizetich would prove the Oranje’s undoing, keeping her side calm under pressure with three blocks to snatch victory with a 15-9 fifth set victory. By all accounts this was a real classic, and although the Dutch just came up short, in this Argentina side, one can be forgiven for seeing shades of the Thais last year. For them, anything may be possible at their first ever Montreux Masters.