Montreux, Switzerland, June 8, 2017- It was another day of surprises on the Swiss Riviera as Germany pulled off a stunning second win in 24 hours to eliminate Thailand and stand on the brink of progression in Pool B. Montreux debutants Argentina are on the verge of progress with a shock triumph over Olympic gold medallists China after a five-set blockbuster, a result which didn’t render the Netherlands’ earlier win over Switzerland obsolete, but leaves Argentina needing to all but avoid a non-tie-break defeat in their final game to qualify for the semi-finals ahead of the Oranje in Pool A.
The Netherlands were up first against host nation Switzerland knowing nought but a win would do if they were to have any hope of reaching the semi-finals, and it was Celeste Plak and Tessa Polder whose artistry conjured their first win in the 2017 competition, firing 36 points to overturn a one-set deficit with a 3-1 (23-25, 25-14, 25-18, 25-20) victory. It was a positive finish to the group stage for the Dutch after two agonising tie-break losses, but their fate was nonetheless out of their hands.
Before those teams took to the court, however, opening day victors Germany and Thailand squared-up on court in a critical clash in Pool B. Thailand needed a victory after a surprise opening defeat to Poland, whilst Germany were on the back of their big win over Brazil. It was an entertaining affair with a strong contingent of Thai support in attendance, but they were to head home heartbroken this year, Germany’s Wing Spiker Louisa Lippmann weaving her magic to hit 31 points. It was the most impressive individual match haul at Montreux so far, and propelled her country to a remarkable 3-1 (25 -22, 23-25, 25-19, 25-20) win. With two points separating Germany from third-placed Poland going into Friday’s clash between the two, the Germans still need a positive result to qualify, unless Brazil fail to beat the Swiss.
The stage was then set for Argentina to face holders China, and it very much went the distance. Argentina’s terrific trio of Paula Yamila Nizetich, Elina Rodríguez, and Emilce Sosa hit a combined 51 points to edge China over five-sets (25-20, 18-25, 23-25, 25-23, 15-13) in a pulsating contest. Argentina went ahead, before China won the next two sets, Liu Xiaotong, Gong Xiangyu and Wang Yuanyuan piercing through the Argentine defence. With the fourth-set seemingly in Chinese hands at 10-16, Argentina somehow hit back to draw the game level at 2-2 with a 25-23 set win. Now it was about desire and the will to win, and it was Argentina who finally prevailed. Coach Guillermo Orduna called time-out on his side’s second match-point to reconvene with his players, before Rodríguez’s spike brought the curtain down on an unforgettable day of action.
With only the holders guaranteed a semi-final berth despite defeat after a nail-biting third day of action, more drama is guaranteed on the shores of Lac Léman as the fate of the six who may still reach the final four is decided on Friday.
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