Lausanne, Switzerland, May 12, 2016 – The Netherlands’ Lonneke Sloetjes thinks two major finals played by the team in the last nine months will be significant as the Dutch team aims to get a ticket to Rio at the Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Tokyo (May 14-22).
“It definitely helps that we have the experience of two games under great pressure,” the 25-year-old Sloetjes told NU.nl. “You saw in the second game how we had made progress as a team.”
Orange lost both to Russia, but coach Giovanni Guidetti’s team improved from a rough 3-0 loss (25-14, 25-20, 25-20) to a closer 3-1 defeat (25-21, 22-25, 25-19, 25-20).
“The European Championship final was my first really big game, and I was stiff with nerves,” Sloetjes admits. “In the Olympic Qualification Tournament, I was much more focused and you could see that was true for the whole team. Russia was even stronger, but we played a lot better.”
The Netherlands must face Kazakhstan, South Korea, Thailand, the Dominican Republic, Italy, Peru and Japan to fight for a ticket to the Olympic Games.
“People around us are saying we’ll do it easily,” Sloetjes says. “But it’s a really a tough tournament. There are no bad opponents and there will be a lot of extra stress and pressure involved. But if we play to our level, we should be able to do it.”
The Netherlands open their Olympic qualifying campaign on Saturday with a match against Kazakhstan.