Andria, August 2 -- China moved one step closer to their first ever World Grand Prix title here on Saturday by defeating the Netherlands in 3-1 in the southern Italian city of Andria.
Recording their fourth consecutive victory in the final round of the 2003 women's volleyball World Grand Prix tournament 25-20, 25-20 and 25-27 and 25-17, the Chinese women have secured a top two finish at the tournament with the last match against Russia scheduled for Sunday.
Despite the victory, Chinese head coach Chen Zhonghe was not so satisfied with the team's overall performance.
"Both sides did not play very well," said Chen. "Both teams made a lot of mistakes and they made more mistakes than we did."
The Netherlands' Italian coach Angelo Frigoni agreed with his Chinese counterpart.
"Both team did not play good," Frigoni said. "We made a lot of mistakes and did not take the opportunities that China gave to us."
"The players are very tired, not only physically, but also mentally," Frigoni added. "We will play 10 games in 12 days. Iit's really difficult for the players."
Chen was still cautious when talking about China's title hope.
"Everybody wants to win the championship and we will just try our best to get the best result possible," he said.
China raced to a 20-12 lead in the opening set behind blitz offense led by Yang Hao and Zhao Ruirui. The Dutch women ran off five straight points to pull within 20-17, but that was the closest they could go.
The second set saw the two sides commit six serving mistakes each while China still had the upper hand as they led all the way to take the set 25-20.
The Netherlands, who had come from two sets down to beat Italy and South Korea in the final round, won't surrender easily. Trailing by 13-11 in the third set, they went ahead 18-13 with a 7-0 run amid the set. China surged back with a 10-5 to tie it 23-23 and withstood two set points before going down on the third when Irina Donets stopped a spike of Wang Li'na.
China jumped to a 9-2 lead in the final game and held on to secure the victory in one hour and 34 minutes.
"We took the third set just because we served better and spike better," Frigoni added. "We started very bad in the fourth."
Zhao Ruirui led China with 20 points and Liu Ya'nan and Yang Hao added 17 and 15 respectively.