Powerful hitter Britt Herbots scored 33 points to lead in-form Belgium to 3-1 victory at the 2021 FIVB Women’s Volleyball Nations League in Rimini, Italy on Friday.

Asian silver medallists Thailand battled hard in the tough match against Belgium to narrowly lose the first two sets 23-25, 24-26. However, with Malika Kanthong and Pleumjit Thinkaow puncturing the Belgian defence with powerful attacks, the spirited Thailand took the hotly-contested third set 25-23 to reduce the margin 1-2.

In the fourth set, Thailand remained in their impressive form, but Belgium upped their tempo to foil the rivals’ comeback attempts. Despite putting up a gallant fight, Thailand had no answer to the Britt Herbots’ mighty attacks to go down 15-25.

Britt Herbots scored a match-high 33 points including 31 attacks and one solid block for Belgium, while Silke Van Avermaet kept good company to add 21 points. Malika Kanthong led Thailand with 16 points, while Pleumjit Thinkaow delivered 13 and Onuma Siitirak and Sutadta Chuewulim assisted with 12 apiece.

Malika Kanthong said at the virtual Mixed Zone: “We are satisfied with our performance today. We are aware that our fitness is not as good as we thought, but we always try our best. If we manage to win at least one set in the match it is enough for us now. We tried to defend a lot today and play fast, because Belgium are a very tall team, so we were not able to block them.”

Belgium’s Ilka Van De Vyver said: “It was a very important match and win for us, because winning this game means we have many points for the world ranking and it’s positive news ahead of the World Championships 2022. So it’s important that we won, and actually how we won is less important. Thailand play a totally different style of volleyball. We had a lot of problems in the block, we didn’t know where to run even if we served well.

“But I have to congratulate Thailand, because they were able to cover all the directions of the attack. It was a hard game, but it’s over, we won 3-1 and we are really happy about it. Serve was very important, you could see that when we didn’t serve well, we couldn’t play our game. But in the sideout and attack we did an amazing job.”

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