Tokyo, Japan, November 7, 2010 – Serbia came back from losing the first set to overcome China 3-1 (21-25, 25-20, 25-22, 25-22) in the second round of the 2010 FIVB Women’s World Championship at Yoyogi Gymnasium in Tokyo on Sunday.
Serbia captain Jelena Nikolic pierces the defence of Zhou Suhiong (left) and Ma Yunwen in a superb performance from the skipper who was inspirational in her side's come-from-behind victory
In the first-ever match between the two countries, Serbia had lots to thank 22-year-old universal Jovana Brakocevic for after she came on in the first set to top-score with 19 points, while China’s top scorer for the tournament, Wang Yimei, again led her side’s scoring, also with 19 points. The win sees Serbia's second-round record improve to 3-2, while China drop to 1-4.
FIVB Women's World Championship Japan 2010 official page
China's rediscovery of their form – highlighted by a terrific win over Japan on Saturday – continued in the early stages against Serbia, whose coach Zoran Terzic had to call a timeout with his team 10-5 down. Wang Yimei sent down a couple of decent spikes as China took a 16-9 lead at the second technical timeout. But after going 19-13 down, Serbia dug in and, after a great piece of blocking by Milena Rasic on Wang, pulled the score back to 20-17, prompting China coach Yu Juemin to take his players off the court. But Wang came back and landed a couple of big blows as China stayed ahead. A wide serve by Jasna Majstorovic brought up set-point and a sharp crosscourt shot by Ma Yunwen put China 1-0 up.
Early in the second set, China kept going ahead, but Serbia responded each time, with Jelena Nikolic sending down some slick spikes to keep her team alive. Two Serbian errors allowed China to creep ahead and two excellent spikes by Xue Ming from short sets kept the pressure up. But Nikolic replied with two big spikes, and a service ace by Rasic brought the teams level again at 9-9. The Serbs didn't stop there, scoring seven points in a row, going from 9-7 down to 14-9 ahead and forcing Yu to call two timeouts. Nikolic and Brakocevic made a great block and a big spike each, but Serbia's run was stopped when Ma made a magnificent block on the big-hitting Brizitka Molnar. A three-point Chinese spurt then prompted Terzic to call a timeout. Natasa Krsmanovic responded with two great blocks on Li Juan and two scoring shots, as Serbia rebuilt a healthy lead, which they were able to maintain. A wide serve by Zhou Suhong handed set-point to the Serbs and a great serve by Brakocevic set up a push shot at the net by Krsmanovic that levelled the scores at 1-1.
The third set started just like the second – China scoring a point and Serbia getting it back. Xue extended the gap to two points with a tipover for a 7-5 lead and China were three up at the first TTO when the same player blocked Molnar. But Serbia turned things around on the back of spikes by Krsmanovic and Brakocevic and a good block by Rasic. Another great block by Rasic, two spikes by Brakocevic and a reception error by Li saw Serbia lead by four points, prompting Yu to call his second timeout in a matter of minutes. An impressive spell of serving by Brakocevic killed off China for good in the set as Serbia won five straight points and moved into a 22-13 lead. Serbia libero Suzana Cebic came up with one sensational dig to set up Brakocevic and Serbia appeared to be cruising. But they would need most of their big lead to save the set as China pulled back to within two points at 23-21. A shot by Molnar brought up set-point at 24-21. China saved one and then handed the set to Serbia when Wang plunked a serve into the net.
The two teams were neck and neck to 5-5 at the beginning of the fourth set when Nikolic sent a serve long and Wang scored on two spikes for an 8-5 China lead at the first TTO. Serbia suddenly went off the boil and China moved into a six-point lead at 13-7, with Xue making two big blocks and Wang making a service ace. When Serbia got back to 14-11, Yu called a timeout and China were five points ahead at the second TTO. But Yu called his players off the court again as Serbia moved to within two points. Serbia then reduced the deficit to one at 17-16 and again at 19-18 when Nikolic made a sensational dig to set up a spike by Molnar and bring the scores level at 19-19. It stayed close. China edged ahead on two great short-set spikes by Xue, but Serbia responded both times. At 22-22, Krsmanovic made a super block on Wang in the centre. Chinese libero Wei then made two reception errors. The first set up a tipover by Krsmanovic and the second hit the floor, ending the match.