Dark horses upset the odds, leaving holders on the brink of progression


Montreux, Switzerland, June 7, 2017- It was the day of the underdog in an incredible afternoon at the 2017 Montreux Volley Masters, with three highly-charged fixtures, including two tiebreaks propelling the day’s action beyond midnight. The drama began early as Poland stunned 2016 silver medallists Thailand; the perfect repose to their opening day defeat. The late fixture saw Germany sensationally topple title contenders Brazil, after China scraped past the Netherlands in a blockbuster to stand on the brink of qualification for the semi-finals once again.

It was Poland, looking to respond after an opening day defeat by Brazil, who claimed the first major scalp of the day, serving up an entertaining game with the much-fancied Thais. In truth, Thailand looked like a side under the pressure of expectation after last year’s impressive performance at their first ever Montreux Masters, and the Poles took full advantage of their sluggishness. Malwina Smarzek and Agnieszka Kakolewska led the line with a combined 47 points in a hard-earned 3:1 (25-17, 22-25, 25-23, 27-25) Polish victory, which keeps their hopes of reaching the semi-finals very much alive.

The second game of the day featured Olympic gold medallists China- looking to follow up yesterday’s win over Switzerland- against the Netherlands, who came into the match on the back of an agonising tie-break defeat by Argentina. It would be the ‘Oranje’ to fall short over five-sets for the second match in succession, with China running out 3:2 (25-27, 25-22, 25-16, 17-25, 15-11) winners. Liu Xiaotong and Gong Xiangyu orchestrated this latest triumph, scoring 31 points between them to inflict further misery on the Dutch, whose hopes of progression to the semi-finals are left on a knife edge. They must beat Switzerland to have any chance, whilst China sit top of Pool A with five points and one foot firmly in the semi-finals.

Cue Germany and Brazil taking to court in the late fixture, who served up another five-set spectacle; Louisa Lippmann the architect of Brazil’s downfall with a 21-point haul in a sensational 3:2 (17-25, 25-20, 22-25, 25-23, 13-15) victory. Maren Brinker and Marie Scholzel’s 30-point contribution, including eight blocks, also helped fend off the threat of the influential Tandara Caixeta and Natália Pereira. The Seleção duo helped Brazil respond twice after Germany seized the lead in the sets, despite the team showing signs of fatigue from their opening victory over Poland. This tempestuous battle would go the distance, but Felix Koslowski’s squad finally saw off the South Americans in the fifth set to record an opening win on their return to Montreux. Brazil, despite defeat, still cling onto top spot in Pool B with four points.

With the hopes of several sides still in the balance after a dazzling display of volleyball, more drama is guaranteed as the fate of several sides in their quest to reach the semi-finals will be decided over the course of Thursday’s action.


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