China succumbed to another straight-set loss in the 2021 FIVB Women’s Volleyball Nations League in Rimini, Italy on Wednesday as the reigning Olympic champions went down 15-25, 23-25, 21-25 to in-form Turkey.

China had already suffered two losses in this year’s VNL including 0-3 to Asian champions Japan and 2-3 to Canada, but registered victories in the remaining three outings which comprised 3-1 against Korea, 3-0 against Thailand and 3-2 against Germany.

Playing without their two key players, Zhang Changning and Liu Xiaotong, both of them joined the Rio Games-gold medal-winning team, China were apparent not to be at their best on Wednesday.

Turkey had too much power with Ebrar Karakurt a constant thorn in the Chinese side with her power at the net and she was aided by the likes of Eda Erdem Dundar and Meliha Ismailoglu, who marshalled their teammates defensively.

Ebrar Karakurt scored a game-high 17 points for Turkey, while Meliha Ismailoglu, Eda Erdem Dundar and Hande Baladin handed the team 14, 13 and 10 points respectively. Duan Fang led China with 10 points and Li Yao assisted with 7.

With their sensational 25-15, 25-23, 25-21 triumph against China, Turkey claimed their straight six wins in the 2021 edition to trail pace-setters the USA in second place with 16 points in the 16-team standing, while China collected 9 points to drop to 8th position.

China’s Li Yao said at the virtual mixed zone: “I’m proud of our team, because despite the result we were not giving up, we kept on fighting and we stayed together as a team.”

Meliha Ismailoglu of Turkey said: “I know that maybe China doesn’t have their main players here, but it’s always difficult to play against them. They have many variations in their attack, they play very quick. We had to defend a lot and it’s what we did – we worked very well in block-defence. Everybody did a great job, I’m very proud of my team. We had 5 wins of 5 and to gain this 6th win was even more important, especially against the team of China. They played very disciplined, they pushed a lot with their serves.”

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