Dominican Republic's win streak ends in five-set thriller against Russia

By Jherard Morris-Sealy June 07, 2021

The Dominican Republic’s good run of form was halted Sunday when they lost to Russia at the Volleyball Nation’s League in Italy.

They went down in a competitive five-set battle 18-25, 25-21, 20-25, 25-22, 8-15.

Both teams showed their intent early with aggressive starts. The DR team was solid in defence at the net and in the backcourt but Russia’s defence was just as good and they outscored the Caribbean queens to take the first set.

The second set was just as competitive as both teams improved defensively resulting in longer rallies. Outstanding setting by Frica Marte created helped DR create more scoring chances, which they capitalized on to pulled away from the Russians and take the second set to level the score at 1-1.

Russia took total control of the third set during which they led 18-8 at one point. The DR attempted to intensify their aggression but were met with stout resistance, forcing them to rethink their strategy. They were able to claw their way back into the set but the Russians held firm to win the set.

DR made a change in their line-up with Isabel Pena replacing Captain Brens Rivera that paid immediate dividends as she impacted the attacking play alongside Bethania De La Cruz which helped them win the fourth set.

Russia was resistant with their defensive effort but Pena’s fresh legs proved to be too much for their fatigued players. The Dominican Republic came out on top and pushed the game to a decisive fifth set.

Russia found a second wind in the final set. They dominated play against a faltering DR's defence, which resulted in them not being able to create second-chance attempts to score. Meanwhile, their opponents applied the pressure with increasing intensity that resulted in victory.

Russian outside hitter Nataliya Goncharova was the game’s overall top scorer with 31 points inclusive of  30 kills and one block. For the Dominican Republic, Brayelin Elizabeth Martinez was once again their top scorer, this time with 23 points - 22 kills and an ace.

With this loss, the Dominican Republic dropped one place to eighth in the standings with 11 points from seven games. They play Turkey today.

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