Olivia Merry has ensured the New Zealand women's hockey team has made a successful start to the world league semifinals in Brussels.

The Canterbury striker has scored from a penalty early in the second quarter to give the Black Sticks a 1-0 win over Spain.

Head coach Mark Hager said while there were plenty of things to work on, it was pleasing to bank three points for a win.

"We started well early on but then allowed Spain to take control and they were all over us in the second quarter," he said.

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"I was happy to see Liv convert that penalty corner - that's something that needed improving after our Spain series and it came at the right time today.

"We've now got two days off before we play again which is good and bad, you like to get into a rhythm at tournaments but it also gives us more time to prepare for a tough game which will be played in hot conditions."

The Black Sticks next face Australia on Sunday morning.