Macau, China, August 24, 2011 – Serbia edged hosts China 3-2 (20-25, 25-18, 23-25, 25-16, 18-16) in Pool A of round robin play in the final round of the 2011 FIVB Volleyball World Grand Prix at the Macau East Asian Games Dome on Wednesday. Jovana Brakocevic saved Serbia and topped all scorers with a 22-point output.
China stunned Serbia in the opening set with an onslaught on their opponents defense. The Chinese players made use of all hitting options, handing them the early lead. Hui Ruoqi, Wang Yimei, Yang Junjing and Ma Yunwen combined their efforts to build the lead for China.
The Serbians tried to toughen up their defense to close in on the Chinese lead but their opponents held off assaults from both flanks. China’s play drew huge cheers from the home crowd, helping them power through to take the first set.
Serbian players Jovana Brakocevic and Sanja Malagurski stepped up their offense to quickly build a lead and take the win against the Chinese on the second set. Illustrating better anticipation of the Chinese attack, Serbia managed to step up their blocking games to hold out their Asian rivals.
It was a tighter third set as China and Serbia had an exchange of spectacular attacks – a feat that seemed endless for both teams. Brakocevic persevered on her offense to momentarily pull away in the set in favour of Serbia but China’s last minute heroics on offense and defense changed the tempo of the game to be awarded of the third set.
China’s quickness and Serbia’s strength were evident in the fourth set as both teams exploited their respective advantages to take a shot on getting the lead. It was rather an imitation of the third set that had several lead changes until the second TTO where Serbia broke the monotony of the game. China’s defense became weak as Brakocevic and Milena Resic went in for the kill to see their side draw even and take the match to a decisive fifth set.
China executed better defense to take the advantage early on in the finalset. But Serbia's offensive play was important as they kept the gap narrow and eventually went ahead of the hosts. Serbia’s block proved valuable for them in the end to make them escape the thrilling fifth set, taking two points and first blood in Pool A.