Bangkok, Thailand, July 8, 2016 – World champions and title-holders USA survived a sturdy challenge from China to power past the World Cup champions in hotly-contested three-setter 25-21 26-24 25-22 to top Pool K and secure their semi-final berth at the 2016 FIVB Volleyball World Grand Prix Finals at the Indoor Stadium Hua Mark on Friday.
China suffered two straight losses to finish third in Pool K and now have to contest the 5th-6th place playoff on Sunday. In that round, the Chinese will take on either Thailand or Russia.
USA improved their win-loss record to China to 15 wins against 21 losses after they turned the table on the Chinese, blitzing the Asian winners in straight sets. Karst Lowe led USA with 12 points, all of them through sharp spikes from 28 attempts. Rachael Adams added with six points from her stuff blocks. Zheng Chunlei emerged as the China’s top scorer with 14 points.
As China rested their best players including Zhu Ting and Zhang Changning at home, USA on Friday also rested tournament’s best spiker Foluke Akinradewo.
Powerful Hui Ruoqi and the 199cm Yuan Xinyue got China off to a great start in the opening set to take an initial 10-6 lead. Kimberly Hill and Jordan Larson’s strong attacks led USA for an exciting 12-12 equaliser. Hui was taken to the bench when she sustained tense muscles at her right leg and the Chinese captain was replaced with Liu Yanhan. USA snatched the first set 25-21.
China took advantage of the USA’s sluggish start to lead 6-1 in the second set, but USA clawed their ways back. The efficiency of USA’s solid blocks led by Hill and left-hander Karsta Lowe’s exceptional attacks led the team to catch up with the pace-setter China 21-21. USA went on to defeat China 26-24 in the hard-fought set.
The third set initially turned out to be a one-sided set with USA leading commandingly 12-6. However, China pulled their game together with Lao Xiaotong and Liu Yanhan unleashing a series of ferocious attacks to narrow the gap 24-22. A Lowe’s spike went wide in a crucial point, but USA’s challenge on touch was successful. USA won the set 25-22 and a Final Four berth.