Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand, September 17, 2018 – Australia, playing without scoring machine Rachel Rourke, came from behind to beat Kazakhstan in hard-fought five-set thriller 21-25 25-20 25-23 20-25 15-12 for their second win at the 6th AVC Cup for Women at the Chartchai Hall here on Monday.
Jennifer Sadler chipped in with 18 points for Australia consisting of 14 attacks, one block and 3 aces,while Jennifer Tait and Carey Beth added 14 and 13 points respectively. Anastassiya Rostovchshikov contributed 23 points for Kazakhstan.
Australia rested the 192cm Rachel Rourke, who scored a match-high 33 points to lead the team to 3-2 comeback win over the Philippines in their opening match the previous day, and had captain Beth Carey and Jennifer Sadler to strengthen the team. The Aussies opened up aggressively to take an early lead with a 5-point clear at 7-2 before Kazakhstan chipped in with mighty spikes to close the margin at 8-8 and stretched it with a two-point advantage at 20-18. With Anastassiya Rostovchshikov and Zarina Sitkaznova attacking powerfully at the net, Kazakhstan went on their fine form to take the first set 25-21.
Conceding one set, Australia turned things around and came out much better in the second set, which they led with a 5-point advantage at 11-6 and widened the gap to 16-9 at the first technical timeout, courtesy of their intensified defence and fine attacks from Monique Stojanovic. Kazakhstan gathered their courage to stage a fightback and came within a whisker of closing the margin at 19-20, but Australia pulled clear to grab the set 25-20.
Australia got off to a brilliant start in the third set to lead 4-0 and advanced to 11-6, making the most of the rivals’ unforced mistakes. Kazakhstan head coach Russian Boris Iakimushkin called a timeout to improve their fortunes and his intention paid its dividends when his girls successfully met the closest rivals at 16-16. From then, both sides traded points through their attacks and blocks until the score was tied at 23-23. Australia held on to win the closely-contested set 25-23.
Kazakhstan made a solid start in the fourth set to initially lead 12-9 and widened it to 19-15 when Australia became prone with unforced errors. After leading 24-19 for good, Kazakhstan allowed Australia one more point to wrap up the set 25-20, with Rostovchshikov scoring the last point through her thunderous spike.
In the decider, Kazakhstan recovered from a slow start to trail with two points behind at 2-4, but Anastassiya Kolomoyets and Rostovchshikov were defending brilliantly at the net, attacking powerfully and blocking almost everything to level 6-6. After that, both sides gave it all-out to win the set and match. However, Australia fared better at the final assault to win 15-12.
“I don’t think it was a clean win, but we just tested it till the end and that helped us. There was nothing wrong with Rachel Rourke. We just give her the rest from the game. We next play Iran, the team we played two times last year which I think it was even a rematch. They played really good with a fast game and dynamic. We’re looking to a good game against them,” Australia head coach Shannon Winzer commented after the match.