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Zhu, Yuan lead China over resilient Canada

 
Setter Ding Xia was key to China's victory over Canada
Sapporo, Japan, October 2, 2018 – Captain Zhu Ting led China to victory in a tough match against a resilient Canada team in the FIVB Women’s World Championship on Tuesday. China won 3-0 (25-21, 25-21, 25-13) in the final match on the third day of action at Hokkaido Prefectural Sports Center. 

Zhu was the top scorer for China with 14 points, but it was no one-woman show. Yuan Xinyue added 10 points and Gong Xiangyu nine. Kiera Van Ryk was the only Canadian to get into double figures, with Emily Maglio scoring nine points.

China had the edge in blocking points (10-8), service points (6-4) and errors (10-19), and were dominant in sets (27-6), reflecting a strong performance from setter Ding Xia. 

The two teams had met once before in the World Championship and three times in other world-level championships with China winning 3-0 each time. China (3-0) have won all of their matches in straight sets in this year’s championship. Canada have lost their first three matches 3-0.

On paper, this should have been a mismatch. Canada had lost 3-0 to Turkey who had lost 3-0 to China. Canada are ranked 19th in the world; China are No. 1 and the Olympic champions. But Canada took the lead early on and looked very much like they wanted to keep it. China, of course, had other ideas, but Canada were showing they weren’t going to be pushovers. China went ahead for the first time at 7-6 thanks to a lucky serve off the net cord, but Canada drew level again at 8-8 on a stupendous service ace by Van Ryk. After that, the lead kept swapping hands. Van Ryk and Maglio were at the heart of Canada’s attack and defence, while Liu Xiaotong contributed a couple of good hits for China, but Canada hurt themselves with errors, including two poor serves. A bomb by Zhu was followed by two blocks from Yan Ni to make the score 23-21 before Liu ended the set with a spike and a great block on Van Ryk.

If Canada showed resilience, determination and fight in the first set, they doubled down in the second. Not only did they not give up, they forced China to fight for every point. China setter Ding Xia was in fine form and two lightning quick sets for Yan Ni and Yuan Xinyue helped China to an 8-4 lead at the first technical timeout. Autumn Bailey and Maglio helped Canada turn things around midway through the set and a block by Van Ryk on Liu put Canada ahead for the first time in the set at 14-13. Zhu and Li Yingying, China’s youngest player at 18, started slamming balls down to keep China in the game and the Olympic champions regained the lead when Yuan blocked Brianna Beamish superbly to make it 19-18. A bomb by Zhu, an ace by Li and a block by Yuan gave China a four-point breathing space at 22-18. A key and lengthy challenge overturned a Canada point to make it 23-19 and that took the wind out of Canada’s sails. Two errors ended the set. 

The third set was a bit of an anti-climax as Canada ran out of steam. Substitute Shainah Joseph offered some resistance but Gong Xiangyu responded with some big shots. A service ace by Zhu brought up matchpoint and Hu Mingyuan’s block on Beamish ended the match.


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