Gioia de Colle, Italy, July 29 -- China battled for one hour and 26 minutes to beat Italy 3-1 on Wednesday for their third consecutive win in the final round of the 2003 FIVB $1 million World Grand Prix, the elite annual volleyball tournament for the world's top teams.
The Chinese women gained sweet revenge for their 3-1 loss to Italy at the 2002 World Championship in 2002 with a 25-22, 23-25, 25-15 and 25-20 victory over the reigning world champions, who have yet to record a win in the final round.
With a 3-0 record in the six-team round-robin competitions, the Chinese are in a good position to win their first title at the World Grand Prix tournament, which was inaugurated in 1993.
"We played a great game today, our starters were in top form," said China head
coach Chen Zhonghe.
"We showed our speed and variety of offense tactics," he added.
Italy coach Marco Bonitta agreed with his Chinese counterpart.
"The Chinese team was faster and they changed tactics frequently, which made
our defense more difficult," Bonitta said. "They also did a very good job in
Italian captain Manuela Leggeri thought it was upsetting to lose their third
game in a row.
"It is a hard time for Italy, but the team is making progress," Leggeri said, adding that the team had only been put together four weeks before the World Grand Prix.
Towering spiker Zhao Ruirui led China with 21 points with Liu YaĄŻnan, Wang
LiĄŻna and Yang Hao adding 16, 13 and 12 respectively.
China surged from a 19-18 deficit for a 24-21 lead in the opening set. Elisa
Togut of Italy made it 24-22 with a short dink, but she served long right after
to surrender the first game.
Italy came back strong and led all the way to take the second set.
China gained an easy win in the third set and Zhao Ruirui gave them a 24-20 lead in the fourth with a smash. Zhao teamed up with Wang Lina to neutralize Rachele Sangiuliano to secure the victory for China.