Tokyo, Japan, May 18, 2016 - A sublime setting and serving performance from Laura Dijkema has helped steer The Netherlands to a 3-0 (25-22, 25-18, 25-21) win over the Dominican Republic, who is still chasing its first win of the tournament.
Even a stand out performance from Libero Brenda Castillo was not enough to help the Dominicans over the line, including in a third set when the team from the Caribbean threw away a 16-10 lead.
The opening set was a surprisingly even contest, with the difference in the end the serve of Dutchwoman Laura Dijkema.
26-year-old Dijkema on three occasions completely bamboozled the Dominicans, including on one serve their star Libero, Brenda Castillo, to help set up a 25-22 first set win for The Netherlands.
Lonneke Sloetjes had a stunning opening, picking up three blocks and one service ace among her 11 first set points. On the other side of the net, 19-year-old Brayelin Martinez was continuing her outstanding tournament with seven first set points.
The second set ebbed and flowed, until The Netherlands won eight of the last nine points to take the honours 25-18.
The highlight of the set though was the performance of Dominican Republic Libero, Brenda Castillo.
Castillo came into this week already with a reputation as one of the best Liberos in the world, and after three reasonable opening games, put on a show for the crowd in the second set against The Netherlands.
But her heroics could not lift her team to take the set. On the other side of the net Dutch setter Laura Dijkema was also having a break-out game, not only wreaking havoc with her serve, but also providing first class service for her outside hitters.
In the shoot-out between Sloetjes and Martinez for the top point scorer, the Dominican held a slight advantage 13-12 over her Dutch opponent.
The final set was complete heartbreak for the Dominican Republic. They led 3-0, then 8-3, and then 16-10, but somehow managed to lose 25-21.
It was the experience of Sloetjes, Judith Pietersen and Quinta Steenbergen who helped steer The Netherlands back into the set, taking the score from 10-16 to 20-17 and crushing the spirit of the winless Dominican Republic.
But it was also about the lack of experience and self belief within the Caribbean team in closing out sets.
The win puts The Netherlands in a good position ahead of Friday’s game against Italy, while the Dominican Republic must beat Japan, Kazakhstan and Korea in its final three matches to have any chance of Olympic qualification.
World Olympic Qualification Tournament websites:Women's WOQT in JapanMen's WOQT in JapanWomen's WOQT in Puerto RicoMen's WOQT in Mexico