China swept reigning champions the United States 25-17, 26-24, 25-18 here on Wednesday to book a ticket to the third round of the FIVB Volleyball Women's World Championship.
Amid loud cheers from spectators at the Osaka Municipal Central Gymnasium, the world's top-ranked team hammered their opponents in straight sets. Captain Zhu Ting led her team with 19 points, including 17 spikes, while Gong Xiangyu and Yan Ni also racked up double-digit scores. The United States only had one player who could achieve a double digit points tally.
Players of China celebrate during the Pool F match against the United States at the 2018 Volleyball Women's World Championship in Osaka, Japan, Oct. 10, 2018. China won 3-0. [Photo: Xinhua/Du Xiaoyi]
China and the United States previously had seven encounters at the World Championships, with China losing four, including a 3-1 loss to the United States in the final of the 2014 tournament. But China was on fire on Wednesday and remained dominant throughout the match. They built an early lead 3-0 in the first set and entered the first technical time-out with the score at 8-4.
Though the United States managed to narrow the gap to trail 15-17, China, scoring a series of straight points when Ding Xia was server, settled the set 25-17. In the second set, China continued to dominate, but the United States managed to first level the score 21-21, and then save a set point to tie 24-24.
Then after a spectacular spike by Yan Ni, Jordan Larson fired wide to hand China the set at 26-24. The desperate United States failed to turn the tide in the third set, and China entered the second technical timeout with the score at 16-11 and eventually sealed the set and victory 25-18.
Zhu Ting (top) of China spikes during the Pool F match against the United States at the 2018 Volleyball Women's World Championship in Osaka, Japan, Oct. 10, 2018. China won 3-0. [Photo: Xinhua/Du Xiaoyi]
It was also the first loss for the United Sates at the tournament this year after seven straight wins.
"It was a really important game, and our players were very focused today. They didn't think of the results but just focused on playing the game," said China coach Lang Ping after the game.
"We were not firm enough in the game against Italy. We are learning from the previous games and try to do better," said Lang.
In three other games here, Turkey scored their first win in Pool F by defeating Azerbaijan 3-1, Bulgaria edged Thailand 3-2 in an intense game, while Italy defeated Russia 3-1.
China will play Russia on Thursday in their last Pool F game. With seven wins and one loss, China ranked second in Pool F, following Italy which stayed unbeaten. Both Italy and China have secured the ticket to the next round, while the United States and Russia will fight for the last spot.
In the Pool E matches held in Nagoya, Serbia and the Netherlands both suffered their first loss at the tournament, after being edged by hosts Japan 3-1 and Brazil 3-2 respectively. The Dominican Republic trounced Mexico in straight sets, and Germany defeated Puerto Rico 3-1.
Players of China react ahead of the Pool F match against the United States at the 2018 Volleyball Women's World Championship in Osaka, Japan, Oct. 10, 2018. China won 3-0. [Photo: Xinhua/Du Xiaoyi]
Only Serbia have secured a ticket to the next round in Pool E, and the Netherland, Japan and Brazil will fight for the other two spots on Thursday.
The 2018 FIVB Volleyball Women's World Championship kicked off on Sept. 29. During the first round of the tournament that ran through Oct. 4, the 24 participating teams played in four groups and the top four teams of each group advanced to the second round.
The 16 teams in the second round play in two groups and the top three teams of each group will advance to the third round.