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FIVB World Grand Prix 2006
Match Description
China back on song against Asian rivals Japan

China's captain Feng Kun tips the ball over the net

 Reggio Calabria, Italy, September 9, 2006: China bounced back from their horror show against Italy on Friday night to swamp Asian rivals Japan 3-0 in the play-off for fifth place on Saturday morning.
 The Athens Olympic champions were a completely different team to the one that had collapsed so tamely against Italy the previous evening, and won comfortably 25-20, 25-13, 25-18.
 The victory earned 2003 Grand Prix champions China $40,000 in prize money for fifth place, while Japan went home with $30,000 after suffering three straight defeats in the six-team Final Round.
 Japan's China-born wing spiker Shuka Oyama was quickly into her attacking groove, leading the way for her adopted country.
 With China's outside hitters Wang Yimei and Yang Hao struggling in the early stages, it was left to Xu Yunli to get China moving with her work at the net.
 When Yang fired wide again to give Japan the lead at 11-10, head coach Chen Zhonghe replaced her with Chu Jinling, who was outstanding for China last year but has been used sparingly here.
 Wang now began to hit her stride, and her combination play with setter Feng Kun caused Japan all sorts of problems.
 When Shuka Oyama fired wide from her position on the right, Japan called a TO down 15-12 and with China starting to build some momentum.
 Yuki Ishikawa brought Japan back into it with a wonderful block on the rampaging Wang, and when Chu over-hit her spike down the middle to leave China with just a one-point lead, 17-16, Chen took them off for a TO.
 Wang picked up the pace down the home stretch, combining awesome power from her 1.91-metre, 91-kg frame, with subtlety at the net, and China took the first set 25-20 when Xu scored with a clean, angled spike.
 In the second set, China led 8-7 at the first TTO, and when a bullet serve from Wang was too strong for Miyuki Takahashi to control, Japan fell behind 10-7 and needed a TO.
 Saori Kimura enjoyed a rare moment of success for Japan with a well-placed spike into the corner, and Erika Araki struck with a trademark winner at the net, but China were finding points easier to come by.
 Liu Yanan and Li Shan took it in turns to feed off inviting sets by Feng as the Japanese blockers focused on China's heavy hitters out wide, and the Olympic champions steamed ahead as Japan made too many errors on attack against the big red block.
 Shuka Oyama continued to batter away on the left flank for Japan, but the second set was a lost cause and China romped home 25-13 to lead 2-0.
 In the third set, Yang was more like her usual belligerent self both in attack and defence, spiking and blocking with clinical precision.
 China led 8-6 at the first technical break and 16-13 at the second, although Japan produced some fine moments through Ishikawa and Araki at the net under the noses of the Chinese blockers. Down 19-14 and with the match slipping away, Japan called a TO to try and plug the gaps around the court in the face of China's varied and relentless attack.
 Japan had to work hard for every point against China's strong block and agile back-court defence, and they could not score regularly enough to halt China's progress to the third set, 25-18. Fittingly, Chu finished it with a service ace.