Pila, Poland, August 17, 2003 - China came from behind to defeat Italy 3-2 to successfully defend their title for the Girls' Under-18 World Championship that they won two years ago in Croatia. The bronze medals went to the Brazilians who beat USA 3-1.
The Italians charged through the opening set deploying their strong defense and lightning fast settings to rip through the points for 25-17. The Italian charge continued through the second set allowing China a mere 15 points.
The tide turned in the third set and China chipped away to draw back one set 25-23.
Italy opffered little resistence in the fourth which finished 25-16 for China and 2-sets all.
China then took control of the tie-breaker. They ran up an early lead to 5-1 and never let Italy back into the reckoning.
"We are naturally extremely happy to win the final and defend the title," said China's head coach Mrs. Nan Lin. "After the second set our determination increased enormously, we were eager to convert the score and we succeeded. We started to serve and spike better and that was one of the deciding factors.
Chinese captain, Yanan Yang, the tournament's best spiker added that the team had renewed hope in the third set.
Senna Usic of croatia was named Most Valuable Player and was also named best receiver. Italy's libero, Moana Ballarini was best digger and American Jordan Larson was best scorer. Anna Manikowska gave hosts Poland its moment of glory by being named best setter. Best blocker was Adenizia Silva of Brazil, which beat USA for the bronze medal, their sixth medal in the competition's history.
The Americans had an impressive start with a 25-16 decisive win in the opener.
The Brazilians came back with a five point lead in the second and never gave up, allowing the USA only 16 points.
USA looked more comfortable in the third set then a key player, Alexis Crimes, twisted her ankle and had to leave the court. The Americans lost their concentration and brazil took charge of the match. Croatia finished fifth. They lost their first set to Thailand but bounced back strongly in the following sets to overcome 3-1, driven by the exceptional skills of Usic who drove home 23 points. Thailand failed to match their 1997 result when they finished fifth, but made a good impression.
Earlier Russia defeated Poland for seventh place. The Poles had a shaky start in the first two sets and made too many mistakes. They came back strongly in the third set, but Russia prevailed to finish 3-1.