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Zhu stars as China rallies past USA in five-set thriller in third-round opener

 
Nagoya, Japan, October 14, 2018 - Zhu Ting scored a match-high 25 points as China rallied past the United States 3-2 (25-22, 19-25, 20-25, 25-23, 15-9) in the third round of the FIVB Volleyball Women's World Championship on Sunday.

Yan Ni had 13 points in the win for China, while Zhang Changning and Li Yingying had 12 each.

Kimberly Hill paced the U.S. with 24 points in the loss.

China entered the match with an 8-1 record, while the United States were 7-2.

Trailing 2-1, China took control in the fourth set with a strong serve and attack, with captain Zhu playing the starring role.

USA had troubled China with soft tips over the high block throughout the first three sets, but had reception issues in the final two sets.

USA moved out to a 6-3 lead in the first set with a strong attack and serve. Akinradewo's spike off an option play put the United States up 8-6 at the second TTO. Kelly Murphy scored on a couple of nice taps over the high block and the United States led 16-14 at the second TTO. A block by Zhu pulled China within a point at 19-18. A back attack from Zhu moved the Chinese ahead 20-19. China repeatedly fed the ball to Zhu during the set. Kimberly Hill served into the net and China was two points from the set at 23-21. A block by Yan Ni gave China the set 25-22. There were few rallies in the opening set, with most points coming on quick strikes or blocks.

The second set began in similar fashion to the first, with the United States taking a 6-4 lead. Another tap by Murphy made it 10-8 for the United States. Carli Lloyd's block gave the United States a 15-11 advantage. The United States block was proficient and the attack fluid on the way to building a 19-14 margin. Rachael Adams boosted the United States' lead to 22-16 with a spike. A spike off an option play by Akinradewo gave the United States set point at 24-19 and they closed it out 25-19 when she converted another attack from the wing.

A block by Adams saw USA up 6-4 in the third set where they had the momentum from beginning to end. An ace by Zench Chunlei moved China ahead 11-10. Another option play resulted in a successful wing attack by Akinradewo and the United States led 16-12. A wing attack by Burbach made it 20-16 for USA. The United States closed it out 25-20 on a spike by Hill. 

An option play to Yan Ni gave China a 7-6 edge in the fourth set. The United States fell behind 12-9 and called a timeout. Hill ended a lengthy rally with a spike and it was 12-12. China then led off three straight points culminating with a block by Yuan Xinyue for a 15-12 advantage. Zhu fired a service ace to give China a 16-12 margin at the second TTO. China began to score quickly thereafter, finding holes in the United States defense and pressuring on serve. A Yan attack from the center put China up 20-16 as they looked to force a fifth set. Zhu crushed a spike and China led 22-19. Karsta Lowe delivered an ace and USA pulled within one point at 22-21. Hill followed with a spike and the score was level at 22-22. Li Yingying's spike made it set point at 24-23 for China and they took the set 25-23.

The final set was tight, with the United States trying to slow down China's comeback. China was in front 6-4 after a spike by Yan and the United States called a timeout. China led 8-5 at the changeover following a block by Yan. An ace by Li made it 11-7 as China drove for the finish line. They closed it out 15-9 on a spike by Gong Xiangyu.


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