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Volleyball: Zhu stars as China rout USA, while Brazil keep pace with third win

Zhu Ting fires another rocket in a match-winning performance against the USA.

Zhu Ting fires another rocket in a match-winning performance against the USA.

August 30, 2013: Teenager Zhu Ting scored a match-winning 23 points as China beat the USA 3-0 (25-20, 25-23, 25-17) in the World Grand Prix Finals in Sapporo to ensure the Americans will not retain their crown after three titles from 2010 to 2012.


Although no other Chinese players reached double digits in the straight-sets encounter on Friday, it was the team’s 12th straight victory in this year’s competition and third in the Finals at Hokkaido Prefectural Sports Center.


Brazil offer no way through for Italy.

Brazil offer no way through for Italy.

Brazil then beat Italy 3-0 (25-16, 26-24, 25-11) to remain as the only other unbeaten side in the Finals, with 1.96-metre middle blocker Thaisa Menezes (16 points), outside hitter Fernanda Garay (13) and 19-year-old Gabriela Guimaraes (12) leading the way. China and Brazil face off on Sunday.


In the day’s last encounter, Serbia won their second straight match by beating hosts Japan 3-0 (25-22, 25-17, 25-19).


China coach Jenny Lang Ping selected the 18-year-old Zhu, a 1.95-metre outside hitter, and lefty opposite Zeng Chunlei, 23, in the starting line-up against the USA after both played substitute roles in the 3-2 win against Italy on Thursday, when China lost two sets in which they held multiple setpoints.


Lang, who coached USA to a silver medal at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, paid tribute to her side and also the fallen champions. “I’m pretty sure I know the USA team very well. They have a lot of great players who aren’t at this tournament. They have brought young, talented players and are doing a great job,” Lang said.


“Before the match, I told my players we need to get used to their speed. We haven’t played a fast team yet, so we had to make the adjustment on court and learn to make quick transitions. In the second set today, I emphasised to the players that they must concentrate on defence as we wasted a lot of set points against Italy.”


In the first set, China ran away to an 8-1 lead, with Zhu scoring four points with some huge kills and a good block, and stayed ahead for most of the game. USA drew within two points at 20-18, but that was as close as they came.


Lefty Zeng Chunlei on the attack in the 3-0 win over the USA.

Lefty Zeng Chunlei on the attack in the 3-0 win over the USA.

USA raced into a 4-0 lead in the second game, before the teams were pegged at 9-9 and 11-11. The Americans then led 18-14 when three straight points by Zhu brought China within reach. After a service ace by Zeng levelled the scores at 21-21, USA coach Karch Kiraly called a timeout.


Brilliant defence helped China take the lead for the first time at 23-22 and a spike by Zhu brought setpoint at 24-23 before the 18-year-old blocked Kimberly Hill for her 19th point of the match and China’s second set.


In the third set, USA again streaked into an early lead, with Lang calling a timeout at 6-1. China drew level at 9-9 and led 18-15 when Kiraly called a timeout. Zhu and captain Hui Ruoqi came up with rockets as China stretched their lead to seven points at 23-16, before a block by Zeng brought matchpoint and a long shot by the USA ended the match and their three-year reign as champions.


China savour their third straight win in Sapporo.

China savour their third straight win in Sapporo.

Hui praised her teammates for hanging in after the Americans raised their game at the start of the second and third sets.


“The American players jump very high and block very well. Against Italy, we didn’t play so well at the beginning of the match, but today we had a good start. After the first set we didn’t play so well, but we tried our best and finally were able to win the game, so I’m very happy and proud of my team.”


USA had the edge in blocking points (8-7) and service points (4-3), but committed 18 errors to China’s 13.


2013 FIVB World Grand Prix Finals, Sapporo, Japan (local start times)


Wednesday, August 28 (13:30): Serbia 1-3 China

Wednesday, August 28 (15:30): Brazil 3-0 USA

Wednesday, August 28 (19:10): Japan 3-0 Italy


Thursday, August 29 (13:30): USA 1-3 Serbia

Thursday, August 29 (15:30): Italy 2-3 China

Thursday, August 29 (19:10): Japan 0-3 Brazil


Friday, August 30 (13:30): China 3-0 USA

Friday, August 30 (15:30): Brazil 3-0 Italy

Friday, August 30 (19:10): Serbia 3-0 Japan


Saturday, August 31 (13:30): Italy v USA

Saturday, August 31 (15:30): Brazil v Serbia

Saturday, August 31 (19:10): Japan v China


Sunday, September 1 (13:30): Serbia v Italy

Sunday, September 1 (15:30): China v Brazil

Sunday, September 1 (19:10): USA v Japan

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