Most women’s teams competing in the Volleyball Nations League 2022 showed some level of improvement in the second week of the tournament, but very few did so in such a clear and strong way as the Dominican Republic.
Dominicans celebrate massive improvement in VNL Week 2
After going winless in the opening week, the Caribbeans win three matches in Brasilia
Опубликовано 04:55, 20 июнь 2022
After losing all their four matches and taking just two sets two weeks ago in Shreveport-Bossier City, USA, the Dominicans were among the top teams in the second week, when they won three of their four matches in Brasilia, Brazil, and added points in all of their four matches.
The Dominican improvement was clear right from the beginning of the second week, as the Caribbean swept Tokyo Olympic semifinalists Korea on Wednesday. That was the only relatively short match ‘Las Reinas del Caribe’ (The Queens of the Caribbean) had in the week.
A 3-2 defeat to reigning European champions Italy was next, followed by a victory, also in five sets, against the Netherlands. The Dominicans almost went to five sets again on Sunday against Germany, but won a close fourth set to triumph 3-1 (25-23, 25-23, 11-25, 27-25) and end a productive week on a high.
“I am so proud of my team,” outside hitter Brayelin Martinez commented after the match against the Germans. “We have a really young team this year and we’re making great progress. We didn’t do well in the first week, but everything has changed now. We’ve been working so hard and I’m proud of everybody. We didn't want to go to five sets again, and I’m glad we managed to win at the end, we did a great job.”
Martinez, who spent the last few years playing as an opposite for the Dominicans, was moved to the outside hitter position this week. The tactical change was one of the keys to the Dominican improvement as it allowed the team to have all three of their strongest hitters (Martinez, outside hitter Yonkaira Pena and opposite Gaila Gonzalez) on the court at the same time.
The three were instrumental in the Dominican victory against the Germans, with Pena scoring 18 points (16 kills, two blocks), Gonzalez adding 17 (15 kills, one ace, one block) and Martinez tallying nine (all in kills). Her younger sister Jineiry was also in excellent form, producing 16 with eight kills and eight blocks.
Yonkaira Paola Peña Isabel Top Plays vs. Germany
The nine points won in Brasilia moved the Dominicans up to tenth place in the VNL and they will try to make a run for a spot in the VNL Finals in the third week of the tournament, when they will face Bulgaria, Thailand, China and Poland in Sofia, Bulgaria, from June 28-July 3.
“The first pool was very difficult for us,” captain Niverka Marte reflected. “We have a young group of players and sometimes it takes time for these players to get confident on the court. There are no easy matches in the VNL and we’ll keep taking one step at a time.”