Serbia dug deep and had star Brankica Mihajlovic’s magic to thank as they overcame Poland 3-1 (20-25, 27-25, 26-24, 25-15) on the 2018 FIVB Women’s Volleyball Nations League’s second night of action in Macau.
There were assorted problems with Mihajlovic’s ball toss throughout the match but – apart from maybe weighing on her mind overnight – they were of little matter in the end as she contributed 17 points to the total.
The 27-year-old’s reach helps makes the world number-three ranked Serbia a potent force.
Mihajlovic was more than ably supported by Ana Bjelica (15 points) and a spirited effort from middle blocker Jovana Stevanovic (14 points) and a record so far of 4-1 will have coach Zoran Terzic happy enough with his team’s progression.
They face world number one China in their final Pool 7 game in Macao on Thursday and it promises plenty as it’s a rematch of the Rio Olympics final, won by the Chinese.
For the Poles there was the disappointment of knowing they served for the set in each of the first three stanzas despite falling behind 1-2.
Malwina Smarzek (17 points) was again the star despite the defeat and an overall record of 2-3 so far in the VNL perhaps doesn’t reflect how much potential is in this squad.
The big question coming in was what version of Poland fans would see on the second day of play in Macao, the world-beaters who topped the number-one ranked Chinese or the team that in normal circumstances is ranked 22nd in the world.
The Poles came out flying in the first set, using the placement and accuracy that had brought the Chinese undone the night before. But the Serbs, who have looked out of sorts despite only losing one match so far in the VNL, gradually found their rhythm.
When she finds her groove Mihajlovic is one of the premier players on the planet and on Wednesday she was responsible for some breathtaking displays of power, something no doubt noted by position coaches whose teams look set to draw the Serbs as the tournament progresses.