Lonneke Slöetjes in action for the Netherlands against Germany
Yokohama, Japan, September 29, 2018 - Lonneke Slöetjes scored a sensational 36 points to guide the Netherlands to a hard-fought 3-1 victory (22-25, 25-21, 25-22, 32-30) over Germany on the first day of Pool A action at the 2018 FIVB Volleyball Women’s World Championship on Saturday.
The 27-year-old was too hot for Germany to handle, with her spike especially effective as she won 20 of 53 attempts to steer her team to glory. Yvon Belien was the Netherlands’ next top scorer, putting up 13 points.
Germany’s fight was spearheaded by Louisa Lippmann, who ensured the Netherlands were pushed all the way by scoring 24 points - including 20 spikes - but ultimately that wasn’t enough to prevent the Netherlands from edging this nail-biting encounter.
Things were as close as the previous form between these two at the World Championship suggested they would be, with the European rivals coming into the 2018 edition with five wins apiece from their prior meetings on this stage.
The first set here made it clear things would be as nip-and-tuck as ever, with the first technical time out coming at 8-7 to the Netherlands, who then moved 19-18 ahead after an unsuccessful German challenge. Despite that, however, Germany kept their concentration to snatch the first set 25-22.
Things were just as tight in the second set, which went to-and-fro up to 16-16 before the Netherlands managed to pull away and, behind Slötjes’ points, levelled things up with a 25-21 win.
Despite the tension on the court the players kept their composure superbly, and the fans inside Yokohama Arena were full of appreciation after a wonderful rally in the play that led to the Netherlands taking a 5-4 lead in the third set. With Celeste Plak’s serves causing problems for the Germany defence Jamie Morrison’s side then moved into the ascendancy and took the third 25-22.
There was still plenty of drama to come in the fourth set, with Germany surrendering several set points before allowing the Netherlands to tie things up at 24-24. The teams then traded points as the atmosphere built in the arena, but another German challenge was unsuccessful as the Netherlands picked up their sixth match point before wrapping up the win 32-30.
Hosts Japan provide the Netherlands’ next opponents on Sunday, when Germany will come head-to-head with Cameroon.