slow start to rule
roost in Thailand
China may not have begun the FIVB Girls’ U18 World
Championship in the way that they would have wanted, but
they certainly finished in a manner that left few watching in
Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand, in any doubt that they were
looks back on the action.
When it came to the gold medal match China didn’t hang around;
they beat USA 3-0 (25-16, 25-21, 25-23) in the final at the Chatchai
Hall to claim the Girls’ U18 world title for the fourth time with a
victory that takes them above Brazil in all-time wins.
Their gold medals will now sit alongside those won in 2001, 2003
and 2007 and they were China’s fifth set of medals won across the
history of the U18 World Championship.
Xinyue Yuan was voted tournament MVP and maintained her
remarkable form in the final to lead scoring with 16, while Yunlu
Wang was not far behind with 14.
“I am very happy that we are the winners today,” China captain Sun
Haiping said. “This is because we played our best performance in
the competition with good skills and with passion. We were able to
control the entire match.”
Few would have picked China as eventual gold medallists following
their first two matches after they lost 3-2 to Japan and 3-1 to Poland.
They recovered to beat Greece 3-1 and Argentina 3-0 to qualify from
their pool in third place and set up a round of 16 clash with the hosts
Thailand, whom they subsequently knocked out with a 3-0 victory.
By now they had begun to find their rhythm, though the Dominican
Republic proved to be tough quarterfinal opposition before going
down 3-2. They needed five sets again in the semifinals this time to
beat Peru, before they found their very best form against USA.
“We played very well,” coach Dong Ruijun said with typical
understatement. “Everybody in our team played well in this match
and we accomplished our goal in a good way.
This was the best
performance in this
tournament by my team and
we have been able to provide
great experience to these
young players for future
China’s coach Dong Ruijun
Despite the loss the US had the consolation of knowing they had
achieved their country’s best ever finish in the tournament’s history.
Jordyn Poulter was voted best setter, while Audriana Fitzmorris was
chosen alongside Xinyue Yuan as the best middle blocker.