Tokyo, Japan, May 20, 2016 - A world-class performance by Libero Brenda Castillo has helped Dominican Republic to a 3-1 (25-20, 22-25, 25-12, 25-20) win over Kazakhstan, its first win of the tournament.
Castillo took control of the match in the final set to guide her team to victory in the battle of two winless teams looking for positives to take away from the qualification tournament.
With not much more to play for than pride and maybe a chance to blood some younger players with an eye to Tokyo 2020 it had the potential to be a dour affair.
But it was the Dominican Republic’s 30-year-old Gina Casilla who took control of the match early, finding a way around the Kazakhstan defensive wall to keep her team in touch early, before teenager Brayelin Martinez stepped up to seal the set 25-20 after a tight tussle early.
Martinez and Casilla both finished the opening set with five points apiece, while Kazakhstan had five players with three points apiece, including Katerina Tatko.
While there may not have been much riding on the result, the excitement among the young Kazakhstan team when they levelled the match at 1-all suggested pride was at stake.
Plus neither side fancied finishing at the bottom of the table.
Kazakhstan captain Radmila Beresneva was inspiring, helping guide her team to a 12-7 lead early. At 22-18 it should have been all over, but Brayelin Martinez was finding her range for the Dominican Republic, bringing her team back to 22-20.
Kazakhstan was suddenly under serious pressure, but it was not to be denied, levelling the match with a 25-22 result.
The third set was very one sided, with Dominican Republic leading 8-3, 11-4, 16-9 and eventually 25-12.
Martinez was leading the match with 17 points, ably assisted by a strong setting performance from Frica Marte, while for Kazakhstan Beresneva continued to fight bravely, moving to 13 points, with Tatko on nine points.
When matches are there to be taken, it often needs someone to rise above the pack to grasp the opportunity. For the Dominican Republic it was tireless superstar Libero Brenda Castillo who took the chance.
Castillo was almost a class above everyone else on the court during the final set, digging and setting and providing a cool head for a team that had won only one set for the week coming into today’s game.
Her work help set up Martinez for a game total of 19 points, and Prisilla Brens 15, but most importantly, the Dominican Republic with a 25-20 fourth set and its first win of the week, 3-1.