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 while Russia pounded Italy 3-1 to set the stage for a face-off between the two teams in the final match of this round robin format tournament on Sunday.
In other action the USA fought and prevailed 3-0 in a tough battle that was harder than the 30-28, 25-21, 25-17 score indicated to also set up a thriller for third place in Sunday's final matches. USA and Netherlands both have a 2-2 win-loss ratio, and USA is in front on points ratio.
The Chinese who won their Saturday match 25-20, 25-20 and 25-27 and 25-17 head into the last day already assured of a top two placing, regardless of the outcome of the match with Russia.
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.
"We made a lot of mistakes and did not take the opportunities that China gave to us," Frigoni said.
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.
"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.
Italy ran out to face Russia with a vocal crowd supporting them but it was not enough to carry the day even though they looked compact and efficient in the opening set and demoralized the Russians by winning the opener 25-20
Then the Russian block and classic defense kicked in and with their three dominant players - Ekatrina Gamova, Artamanova and Anastasia Belikova - they contrived to pull the carpet from under the Italians. Russia took the remaining sets comfortably 25-15, 25-20 and 25-17.