Hong Kong, China, July 21, 2017 – A great all-round team effort from China helped them see off Japan 3-1 (25-19, 25-20, 33-35, 25-21) in their first match in Pool G of the FIVB World Grand Prix.
The first set started really close as both teams played with cautiousness and determination. China gradually managed to overpower Japan with spectacular hitting from Li Jing, Zhu Ting and Yuan Xinyue and won it 25-19.
China continued with their dominance in attack in the second set. Japan couldn’t cope with China’s deadly spikes, letting China enjoy a 7-point lead at 20-13. With their improved attacks, Japan were able to reduce the gap to two points but they soon lost momentum after back to back errors in serving and receiving. China proved too strong yet again and took a 2-0 lead courtesy of a 25-20 second-set win.
Japan came out more strong-minded in the third set, taking a 4-point advantage at both technical time-outs. The Chinese team regained composure after the second technical timeout and levelled the match at 19-19, credited to the powerful spikes from Zhu Ting. The game then turned into a see-saw situation. The Japanese did not give in and the tied rallies eventually ended with Japan winning at 35-33.
The fourth set started once again with neither team taking a lead of more than two points. Both of the teams showed undeniable determination under the continuous attacks of the other team. China slowly gained advantage with several successful spikes, taking a lead of 16-11 at the second technical time-out. They didn’t look back and finally ended the match at 25-21 in the fourth.
An Jiajie, China, coach: Japan gave us many difficulties in defense and quick attacks today. Our team players lost their momentum during the third set and were weak in coping with the hard time. Some of our players played against Japan for the first time. I encouraged them to play against team with different styles.
Zhu Ting, China, captain: I’m glad that we won this match. We performed well in blocking and defense at the beginning but we did face pressure given by Japan at the third set.
Kumi Nakada, Japan, coach: Thanks for the support from the Hong Kong audience especially for some of our new players who represent the nation for the first time. China is outstanding in their height and power. However, we also adopted aggressive attacks. After losing today’s match, we have learnt a lot and hope that we can improve and have a better performance in the following matches. I think the key to winning today’s third set was our determination. While we gave great pressure to China in this set, blocking is an area we need to improve as China gained 17 points by blocking.
Nana Iwasaka, Japan, captain: We played very well in the third set. Although we lost today, we will continue to work hard in the next two days.
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