Bendigo, Victoria, June 4, 2016 - Croatia is determined to get back to the second division of World Grand Prix. Samanta Fabris led the team on their quest to finish the pool on the first position. Team's dominant 3-0 (25-20, 25-22, 25-17) win over Colombia shows it’s time in division three might be short-lived.
After a solid 3-1 over Cuba on the opening night, Croatia was even better against Colombia during their first ever encounter at World Grand Prix. After win-less performance in the previous edition of the tournament, Croatia recorded two consecutive wins, which is the first time for World No 21 since 2015 CEV European Championships. The team’s all-round strength impressed the big Bendigo crowd. For Colombia this was the 10th-ever match at the World Grand Prix. The team has so far positive score with seven victories out of ten.
The South Americans made a nervous start, several unforced errors gifting an early lead to Croatia. Samanta Fabris was dominant early, captain Mia Jerkov and setter Ana Grbac continuing with the strong form from 24 hours earlier. The Colombians fought their way back through Madelaynne Montario, leveling the scores at 18-all and putting the Europeans under threat for the first time. But Croatia, who impressed with their patience on the opening night against Cuba, once again refused to panic as Colombia’s game fell away late in the set.
Colombia needed to start strongly in the second set, but were quickly down 4-0. Errors continued to bring the South Americans down, finding themselves down 15-9. The introduction of Moreno Kenny gave the Colombians a spark, with her on court leadership and strong outside hitting bringing the scores back to 15-15. But once again the Colombians were unable to maintain any consistency, with Croatia’s calm demeanour frustrating and thwarting the South Americans.
Croatia gave no sign of easing off the pressure in the final set. Although Colombia matched Croatia early, captain Jerkov and setter Grbac keeping their team in control. By midway through the third set the match was over, Colombia unable to curtail the all-round strength of Croatia. With Grbac continuing to wreak havoc at the net, setting up the powerful outside hitters and dumping at will, the Croatians underlined why their time in third division may be short.