Players of Brazil celebrate scoring during the Round Robin match between Serbia and Brazil at the 2019 FIVB Women's World Cup in Hamamatsu, Japan, Sept. 14, 2019. (Xinhua/Du Xiaoyi)
YOKOHAMA, Japan, Sept. 14 (Xinhua) -- The 13th FIVB Volleyball Women's World Cup unveiled here on Saturday saw Brazil edge Serbia 3-2, while Japan beat the Dominican Republic 3-1, along with other four straight-sets victories by United States, Russia, the Netherlands, and China.
The clash between two-time Olympic champions Brazil and reigning world No.1 Serbia is surely the match of the day and the two teams did not disappoint the fans in Hamamatsu.
Without star spikers Tijana Boskovic and Brankica Mihajlovic, Serbia's young squad pushed Brazil hard, leveling the overall score twice to force a decider. Captain Ana Bjelica had game-high 24 points for the World Champions, but Brazil demonstrated better form with four players scoring double digits in the 25-20, 23-25, 25-18, 22-25, 15-12 victory.
With Rio 2016 MVP Zhu Ting on fire, defending champion China shook off a tough start to beat South Korea 25-21, 25-15, 25-14 to kick off its World Cup campaign off to a good start.
"We were not in a good rhythm in the first set but became better and better in the following two sets, but there's still room for improvement in terms of combinations plays. Hopefully, we can build upon that in the next match," Chinese head coach Lang Ping commented.
Irina Voronkova and Nataliya Goncharova each had 13 points to spur Russia past African champion Cameroon 25-14, 25-15, 25-10 in its World Cup opener.
"It's the first match of the competition, so we were very nervous, but I am happy with the result today and the match itself was not bad either. From now, we will try to play better in the matches coming ahead," Russian captain Evgeniya Startseva said.
The easy win put Russia top of the table ahead of Nations League champion the United States, who started the tournament defeating Kenya 25-14, 25-20, 25-14.
Despite the defeat, Kenyan coach Paul Bitok praised his players for overcoming mental fright against such a powerhouse after a shaky start to play their best on the court.
"Today, I really appreciated my players for doing good. Maybe one or two players still have this [fear for opponent] problem but I think we will learn from this match, and we can correct it and improve," Bitok said.
U.S. head coach Karch Kiraly spoke highly of Kenya's performance after the match.
"I want to congratulate Team Kenya. We studied them on video and saw them today and we see them playing the best volleyball we've ever seen them. Every year, they are getting better and better and that's a real credit to their learning and to their coaches. We also have great admiration for the spirit that they play with, their competitive spirit their joy of playing volleyball,"
Elsewhere, in a packed Yokohama Arena host nation, Japan was close to a straight-set victory before the Dominican Republic launched waves of ferocious attacks in the last points of the third set to earn a set point 24-23. Japan managed to save a match point thanks to a successful challenge, but the Pan American Games champion did not waste its second chance and pulled on back.
Cheered by enthusiastic home fans, Japan regained momentum in the fourth set to nail the win 25-21, 25-11, 24-26, 25-14. Sarina Koga had 28 points while Yuki Ishii added 21 for the victory.
Japanese coach Kumi Nakada was disappointed about the result, saying "no one should be happy about the result. We did not perform to the level we should have."
Earlier on Saturday, the Netherlands bested Argentina 25-16, 25-17,25-19, but coach Jamie Morrison was not quite satisfied with the victory.
"I think we can still be a little bit better. I think we left a couple of blocks and our defensive quality wasn't quite there tonight. We'll improve and get better as this tournament goes on," the 38-year-old said.
The Volleyball Women's World Cup will continue on Sunday in Hamamatsu and Yokohama.