Tokyo, Japan, November 13, 2010 - China recovered from losing the first set and defeated Cuba 3-1 (16-25, 25-22, 25-19, 25-22) in the semifinal round for places 9-12 in the 2010 FIVB Women's Volleyball World Championship in Tokyo on Saturday.
Leading point-scorers on the day was Cuba’s Kenia Carcaces Opon who posted a monster 28 points. China had a more balanced attack with five players reaching double figures, Li Juan leading the way with 16. Zhou Suhong contributed 15 points while Xue Ming and Wang Yimei scored 14 and 13 respectively. Cubans Rachel Sanchez and Ana Lidia Cleger Abel finished with 11 apiece. The Cubans scored with 13 blocks while the Chinese side had the advantage from the service line 7-3.
Cuba roared out in the first set with Yoana Palacios Mendoza scoring the team’s first three points, helping her side go out in front at 8-3. China’s Ma Yunwen tried to fight back with a terrific spike followed up by an ace, but Cuba extended their lead even further, going up 16-9 on Carcaces’s powerful spike. Cleger closed it out at 25-16 out with a spike off a would-be block from Li Juan.
China went 7-2 ahead at the start of the second set thanks to Li who was launching jets from out wide. But a determined Cuba hung tight as a kill from Carcaces brought them within two at 12-10. Cuba’s Rachel Sanchez Perez tied it up 17-17 on a service ace and Carcaces tried to keep her team in it, scoring their last four points and nine in total in the set. But China’s Xue Ming closed it out 25-22 by shutting down a Sanchez attack at the net.
China served well in the opening moments of the third set, but couldn’t shake free of Cuba who levelled it at 7-7 on an attack from Silva Franco Gyselle de la Caridad. Despite continued attacks from Carcaces, China regained the lead thanks to an ace from Xue Ming that made it 13-10. They kept that edge until late when a pair of attacks from Zhou Suhong gave China set point, and Ma eventually closed it out 25-19 with a drive of her own.
The fourth set was all China early on as Xue and Wang Yimei contributed aces to put their team up 6-1, but Cuba clawed back to tie it at 12-12 with a stubborn block by Cleger at the net on Li. However China’s Wang pushed her team over the line with three spikes late on, the final one giving them the set 25-22, and the match as well.