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Masterful Yellow Tigers tame the Netherlands in the lion’s den | Volleyball World Cup

The Yellow Tigers had already played a hell of a game against top favorite Italy earlier this week. That did not yield any points, but it did give confidence for the clash of the Low Countries against host country the Netherlands.

That was noticeable in the first set. The Yellow Tigers played bright and free and played a nervous Netherlands from pillar to post with a strong block and a strong defense. It took until the end of set 2 before the Netherlands came into play, but then it was already 0-2 for Belgium.

Carelessness gradually crept into the Belgian game, but with their well-known fighting spirit and thanks to an inimitable Britt Herbots, the Yellow Tigers forced their first match ball. But the nerves screamed down the throat of game distributor Jutta Van de Vyver and her mistakes cost Belgium the 3rd set.

Halfway through the fourth set, national coach Gert Vande Broek intervened. He took Van de Vyver, flawless in set 1 and 2, to the side for Charlotte Krenicky. It gave the Yellow Tigers some breathing room and Herbots did the rest.

In an exciting final phase, the Belgian star player stood up at the right time. She gave the Yellow Tigers a stunt win and silenced the Dutch fans in Arnhem: 16-25, 23-25, 26-24, 25-27. Thanks to the victory against the Netherlands, Belgium can secretly dream of the quarter-finals, but then a stunt must follow in the next round against China, Brazil or Japan.

Britt Herbots gave a short reaction immediately after the victory. “How we won? I don’t really know”, the Belgian star player couldn’t believe her joy.

“This was a unique experience: a stadium full of energy. It was crazy, we fought hard but lost our concentration for a while. In the end we were a bit lucky, but we were allowed to.”

Herbots was ubiquitous and the match’s top scorer. “That’s the role I have in this team, but it’s not just about me. Everyone did their job and that makes us stronger as a team.”

“Italy’s disappointment has brought us closer together as a group and we needed that. These are three bonus points and they help us move forward in the second group stage, but on Sunday we have to beat Cameroon first.”

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