VNL: USA blanks China to stay unbeaten in Manila, Belgium escapes Poland
MANILA, Philippines — Kathryn Plummer and Kelsey Robinson lifted United States in sweeping China, 25-21, 25-23, 25-21, to stay unbeaten in the Quezon City leg of the Volleyball Nations League (VNL) on Saturday night at Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Plumer unleashed 20 points, including two service aces, and had six digs and five receptions while Robinson contributed 15 points, six digs, and five receptions.
The defending champion earned its sixth win in seven games to tighten its hold of the second seed.
“I think it’s great. They had us down in the third set a little bit but we just kept on pushing and battling back,” said Plummer.
“This is the first two weeks that this group is together. We are working on things every single day and we are starting to feel more cohesive and we are having a lot of success,” she added.
Team USA tries to sweep Week 2 against Southeast Asian Games champion Thailand at 3 p.m. on Sunday.
Li Yingying led China with 13 points, seven receptions, and six digs, while Gong Xiangyu added 11 points to go with eight digs as their team dropped to 5-2.
The Chinese will face unbeaten leader Japan in the final match of the Quezon City leg at 7 p.m.
Meanwhile, Britt Herbotts erupted with 33 points as Belgium survived Poland, 25-20, 15-25, 25-22, 22-25, 15-13, for its first win in the Philippine leg.
Marlies Janssens also had five blocks to finish with 12 points for Belgium, which improved its record to 2-5 and kept its final round hopes alive in Ankara next month and more importantly, avoid relegation.
“I know it’s my role in the team so I know I get a lot of balls and important to score of course. The most important thing is we really played as a team,” said Herbotts. “It was really a tough fight and I’m happy with the two points.”
“It is really important because it is a really tough week. Mentally, physically, there are a lot of games. After a win, it is easier to be back with a smile. It was a boost for our team,” she added.
Belgium, which will face Bulgaria at 11 a.m. Sunday, hopes to march on despite all the tremendous odds it encountered before the start of the tournament.
“The most important thing is staying in the VNL. Top eight is maybe difficult for this season because we brought some new players in the team, find new stuff. We are working really hard, we are fighting really hard. It has not been easy until now. Let’s hope for more points tomorrow,” said Herbotts.
“We are not thinking about top eight. We are really thinking of staying in the VNL now. We love this tournament. It’s really high-level performance tournament. The most important thing is fighting, stay in here and to be also here next season.”
Poland leaned on Martyna Lukasik and Martyna Czyrnianska, who finished with 25 and 21 points, respectively. The Polish finished the Quezon City leg with an even 4-4 record.