ZHU RETURNS AND CHINA REJOICES WITH VICTORY OVER ARGENTINA
Hong Kong, China, May 29, 2018 – Superstar captain Zhu Ting made her considerable presence felt with a 16-point FIVB Volleyball Nations League debut as China defeated Argentina 3-0 (25-22, 25-16, 25-11) on Tuesday night.
The strength in depth the world’s number-one ranked team enjoy was reflected in that fact that Zhu had been rested for the VNL’s first two rounds. The 23-year-old wing spiker had four points in her first stanza of action as she started to warm to the task ahead.
Zhu then opened up the second set with a monstrous spike from the left-hand side that didn’t so much set China’s wheels in motion but shifted them into overdrive.
The star was there for the match’s major highlights – including four blocks – but both wing spiker Liu Xiaotong (nine points) and middle blocker Yan Ni (eight points) helped to keep the crowd on its feet.
Argentina came in to the match having never beaten China, and they faced a full house that simply refused to entertain the thought that drought might ever be broken in Hong Kong. But the South Americans gave it their all, with wing spiker Anahi Florencia Tosi (10 points) leading the way and she had support from middle blocker Florencia Natasha Busquets Reyes (six points).
Coach Lang Ping is still working out the right line-up for China – who as hosts are already qualified for the finals – so there is still plenty of time for other players to shine, too, and the rotation system she has so far employed will continue to get a work out.
Lang said before the match that these early rounds were like “training sessions”. It will no doubt help her efforts now that Zhu is back to lead by example.
China’s record in the VNL so far moved to 4-3 with Japan and then Italy to come in Hong Kong – both matches they’ll be expected to win.
It was always going to be a tough ask for Argentina, given they’d not yet won a match in the inaugural VNL – and they now remain the only one of the 16 nations in action not to have so far. Next up for them is Italy on Wednesday night.
China head coach Lang Ping said: “Today our team is still in the process of figuring out cooperation. Our understanding against Argentina was not very clear at first. Some passes were not accurate and we needed to adjust our rhythm. Our team’s reaction was a bit slow and some of our players lack experience. We hope our team’s cooperation will improve.”
China captain Zhu Ting said: “During the first set, we were not cooperating well. But improvements can be seen in the second and third sets and we performed well just as in our trainings. There are still plenty of things to learn from this match. Argentina are a strong team and they played well too.”
Argentina head coach Guillermo Orduna said: “We have a young team, today’s match was a challenge for us, though we opened the game quite well. But the mistakes made in the following sets led to our loss. We have found what we need to improve.”
Argentina captain Julieta Lazcano said: “We tried our best and had some good rallies. Our team will go on improving.”
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