Jiangning, China, July 18th, 2009 – Over 4,000 spectators watched a fierce battle Saturday at Gymnasium of Jiangning Sports Center as Italy won the tough battle against the home team in 5 sets (28-26, 21-25, 17-25, 25-21 and 15-13).
The loss today is the final match for Team China in FIVB World League 2009 and the home team ranked fourth with a record of 3-9 in the pool. The Chinese players showed their winning attitudes and fighting spirit in the tournament, accumulating the experience through the tough matches to embark on their way to Asian Volleyball Championship later September.
Chen Ping scored 22 points including 19 kills and 2 blocks, which was the best in Team China. Cui Jianjun added 21 more points but didn’t stop Italy from winning. Savani, who destroyed the Chinese efforts with the power of his own, scored 30 points in 5 sets, including 24 kills and 5 blocks,
Still dominating the net, Italy led China 8-5 at the first Technical timeout (TTO) of the first set and continued to control with the score 7-12 before Zhou called the timeout for the home team. Obviously Zhou’s tactics began to function and China came back rapidly to lead 15-13, answering Anastasi’s team with 2 blocks and 1 strong skill. Adjusting to the change after the second TTO (18-16, China was leading), Italy tied the score 18-19. Zhou sent Li Runming to substitute Jiao Shuai as the setter, which helped China to overrun Italy 23-19. However, Cui Jianjun’s spike at the set point ran out of bound and Italy again tied the score 24-24. China didn’t stay focus and Italy showed no mercy with their destructive serves to end the set 28-26.
The score kept close in the beginning of the second set until China’s blockers helped the team to reach the first TTO 8-6. China grabbed the advantage tenaciously and led Italy 16-14 at the second TTO. The 3 consecutive unforced errors made by China not only helped Italy for a 3-0 run to lead 17-16 but also forced Zhou to call for the timeout. With the 2 blocks made respectively by Liang and Chen Ping, China again led Italy 22-19. Cui Jianjun’s serving ace at the set point helped the home team to finish the set 25-21. China dominated the set in the field of block, scored 5 points as opposed to one for Italy.
With a fighting spirit to win their last match of FIVB World League 2009, China came out confidently at the third set and led Italy 8-7 at the first TTO. Trailed 8-8 by Italy, China scored the next four points including 1 serving ace by Chen Ping and 1 block by its Captain Shen Qiong, went on to lead 12-8. Without any change, Italy didn’t come back and was behind China 13-16 at the second TTO. The winning attitude inspired China to keep on firing at Italy and crushed their opponent 25-17 after a 9-4 run.
Italy, the eight-time World League Winner, played impressively in the fourth set. They left no space for the host team to catch up, leading 8-5 at the first TTO and kept on to dominate the second TTO 16-12. The insurmountable gap of 4 points seemed as the barrier that China couldn’t get over and the host team lost the set 21-25.
The decisive set saw a fierce battle while the scrappy Chinese players were not at all admitted to the loss. After an Italian lead of 2 points, Liang helped his team to tie the score 4-4. However, the ex-champion of the World League used their destructive kills to led China 11-8. Liang, again, showed his power in defense at the key points and China caught up 11-11, making the enthusiastic home crowd cheering even louder than before. Finally, China didn’t live up to the fans’ expectation, losing the opportunity to tie the score at the game point and lost the set 13-15.