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FIVB Women's Olympic Games 2008

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China wins first match of Women's friendly series against Cuba

China's Feng Kun sets the ball against Cuba

Beijing, February 25, 2008 – Women’s Olympic champions China claimed their first warm-up victory en route to the Beijing Olympics as they beat Cuba in the opening match of the friendly series between the two teams in Fuzhou, capital of South China’s Fujian province, on Sunday.

In front of a thunderous crowd at the 8,000-capacity Fujian Sports Center, the Chinese, who have just finished a two-month closed-door training camp, blitzed the Cubans 25-18, 25-22, 25-12 in about an hour.

Head coach Chen Zhonghe fielded a lineup including long-term absentee Zhao Ruirui, out of action for three and a half years due to a knee injury, and team captain Feng Kun, also returning from a leg injury that sidelined her in 2007.

“We have trained for two months, so all the players were highly involved in the first match. We basically played our best but still committed some unforced errors,” said 29-year-old setter Feng, adding that she has put her injury behind her and is trying to develop chemistry with her teammates on the court.

Partially thanks to the mistakes the Cuban girls made, China claimed the first set without breaking sweat. The second set saw the Chinese team get off to a flying start, going up 5-2 and finishing the second technical timeout leading 8-6. The contest, however, became tense as both teams exchanged the lead many times.

 

At 21-21, China pulled away first and scored four out of the last five points, with Zhao popping up from the middle and left to hammer the last two smashes for the home team. The Chinese were in complete control in the third set.

Rising wing-spiker star Wang Yimei led the Chinese team with 15 points, while Zhao completed a high-profile comeback by scoring 13 points.

“Given the fact that Zhao had not played normal games since 2004, I give her 90 marks in the match,” said head coach Chen. “… Feng is still (having a) harsh time, recovering (from) her injury and training for the Olympics at the same time. I need her to handle the ball with fewer mistakes because in a top-class event like the Olympic Games, any mistake cannot be afforded.”

Chen added that the series of friendly matches with Cuba are the start of the Olympic season for the Chinese team and he will use the matches as a chance to test possible lineups for the Olympics.

 

Cuban head coach Antonio Perdomo admitted his team made too many mistakes but also said the absence of three key players was another reason for the loss. Perdomo said the Cubans are aiming for better preparation for the Olympics through these matches and believes that his team has room to improve.

The series was set to move to Jinjiang, 80 km south of Fuzhou, on Monday for the second leg before the third clash between the two teams in Xiamen. After two days’ break, the rivalry will resume in Zhejiang’s Jiande, followed by the last two matches in Shaoxing and Hangzhou.

  
 

 

  
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