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Argentine blocking can not stop Rasic, one of the best Serbian players

Tokyo, Japan, November 17, 2011 – Serbia put on a fine display of attacking volleyball as the European champions overcame Argentina 3-0 (25-15, 25-18, 25-23) on the penultimate day of the women’s FIVB World Cup at Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium on Thursday. Serbia improved their record to 4-6, while Argentina dropped to 3-7. Jovana Brakocevic picked up the Most Impressive Player award after top-scoring for Serbia with 17 points. Milena Rasic and Brizitka Molnar added 11 and 10 respectively. Lucia Fresco was the top scorer for Argentina with 12 points. Serbia ou tblocked Argentina 8-5 and out served them 4-1.

Argentina coach Horacio Bastit called a timeout after his team fell 5-2 behind, and they recovered two points through Maria Jimena Perez before Serbia captain Jovana Brakocevic made a couple of strong spikes to put Serbia 8-4 up at the first technical timeout. Stefana Veljkovic added two good hits of her own as Serbia moved into a five-point lead at 12-7, at which point Bastit called his second timeout. Three errors didn’t help the Argentines as Serbia led by six at the second TTO and continued to pile on the pressure. Rasic made two good blocks and Tijana Malesevic started to find her range as Serbia moved into a 10-point lead at 23-13. Lucia Fresco tried to hold back the tide for Argentina, but a long serve by her captain, Emilce Sosa, brought up setpoint and a slick crosscourt kill from Brizitka Molnar put Serbia 1-0 up.

Brakocevic continued to bombard the Argentines in the second set and was well-assisted by Veljkovic, who delivered two big blasts of her own and made a sparkling block on Perez. Brakovecic also had a devastating spell of serving as the Serbs moved into an eight-point lead at the second TTO. Argentina started to eat into Serbia’s lead after that and when Yael Castiglione blocked the big-hitting Molnar, the gap was down to three points. But another brilliant serving spell by Brakocevic – including two unstoppable deliveries – put Serbia firmly in control again. Molnar spiked her team to set point and Veljkovic put Serbia 2-0 ahead.

Bastit hauled his players off court at 1-5 in the third set and captain Emilce Sosa responded with two terrific blocks – on Rasic and Molnar – to reduce the gap to two points. Brakocevic went on the attack again to sustain Serbia’s advantage and Argentina committed five errors that helped Serbia into a 16-10 lead at the second TTO. Ana Bjelica came on to add more power to the Serb attack, but the Serbs got sloppy and Argentina came back from 23-17 to 23-21 before Rasic managed to push a spike through for matchpoint. A nice hit by Fresco made it 24-23, but the Argentines committed an error on the next point at Molnar sent a shot long, ending the match.

Press conference:

Serbia coach Zoran Terzic: If I compare yesterday’s game and today, today we were definitely much better. First of all, we used our brains much more than yesterday and respected our opponents and tactics that we prepared before the game much more than yesterday. In every set we made a difference with our very good service and after that not with block, but definitely with defence and counterattack. In those elements we played very well tonight and this is maybe the most important reason why we won this game pretty easy. Tomorrow is the last game and I’m very sure we will finish this competition with one more victory.

Serbia captain Jovana Brakocevic: First, I want to congratulate my team on the victory. It wasn’t easy after yesterday’s game to come back and play good. We again had problems with receiving and we are trying to improve that, and as the sets went on we were improving a bit, which meant we could attack better. We also served well today and that’s why Argentina couldn’t make a good attack and we could defend better.

Serbia No. 6 Tijana Malesevic: First, I want to congratulate my team. Today we played very well and served good all match and that was the reason why we played good. Also, we had good defence and counterattack, and we were better than Argentina in those elements. I hope we can play even better tomorrow.

Argentina coach Horacio Bastit: I would like to congratulate Serbia for the win. For us, we weren’t able to play our usual game tonight, so I’m disappointed that we couldn’t achieve what we set out to achieve. Our team is good at long rallies, reception and defence, but we couldn’t pressure the opposition through our serves and I think that led to tonight’s result. I feel Serbia are superior and have a great attack and good spiking techniques.

Argentine captain Emilce Sosa: Today was a really difficult game. I feel we didn’t play well and certainly not as good as in the previous game.

Argentina No. 5 Lucia Fresco: One of the characteristics of our team is good reception and defence, but today we were not so good. Tomorrow, we have to pull together and do our best.

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