SKIPPER ZHU STEERS THE SHIP AS CHINA CRUISE PAST JAPAN
Hong Kong, China, May 30, 2018 – Zhu Ting once again led by example with 19 points as she led China to a comfortable 3-0 (25-21, 25-19, 25-17) victory over Japan in third-round action at the 2018 FIVB Volleyball Nations League on Wednesday night.
China’s star had been rested for the first two rounds of the VNL – and her side had experienced mixed results. But now the 23-year-old wing spiker is back in action in Hong Kong and showing just how important she is to her side.
Zhu’s 18-point haul included 17 spikes (from 34 attempts) and two huge blocks that had the packed arena screaming with delight.
Zhu’s efforts were supplemented by an all-round effort by the world number one ranked team with opposite spiker Gong Xiangyu chipping in with a handy 10 points. The Chinese are finding the Hong Kong Coliseum a happy home, what with their current 2-0 streak here.
For their part Japan worked hard in trying to avoid Zhu’s reach but she just kept on coming up with big points. Their own star in wing spiker Ai Kurogo continued her own rich run of form, adding 17 points to the 16 she had returned in leading her side to a thrilling 3-2 victory over Italy the night before.
Japan’s style is to apply enough pressure to ensure their opponents rack up a significant amount of errors but the reigning world and Olympic champions have coach Lang Ping running a tight – and nerveless – ship with Zhu at the helm.
With no quarter given there it was down to whether or not the Japanese could simply outgun China on the big points. With Zhu on fire that was never really going to happen.
But it could still be a rewarding trip to Hong Kong for the Japanese, who are at 3-5 and now face an out-of-sorts Argentina in their last match. The South Americans are the only team in the VNL yet to register a victory.
China are now at 5-3 and starting to look ominous, even with Lang’s experiments with squad rotations, given the fact that as hosts they have already qualified for the finals in Nanjing. They face Italy in the last of their third-round matches
Japan coach Kumi Nakada said: “We were very honoured to play against Lang’s team. Although we lost in straight sets, our players demonstrated lots of courage. Every moment and every point in
the match is a lesson to learn. We have lots of corrections to make but it wasn’t that bad after all.”
Japan captain Nana Iwasaka said: “Today’s match was a challenge. We were not aggressive enough against the tall players of China. Tomorrow will be our last game and we will focus on it.”
China head coach Lang Ping said: “We have done a lot of preparation for this match against Japan. I think our tall players can learn a lot from the defense of the Japan team. Our players should improve their speed at the net when blocking.”
China captain Zhu Ting said: “The game was good and Japan’s defense gave us a hard time. Overall, we are pleased with our performance.”
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