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2005 edition
World Grand Prix 2004 - Press Info

Match Descriptive

China beat Germany 3-2 (25-15, 23-25, 30-32, 25-14, 16-14) - duration 2:14
31-Jul, start time: 15:35, end time: 17:49 - Attendance: 550
City: Reggio Calabria; Hall : Palapentimele hall
Defending champs finish Final Round in fifth
Defending champions China, ranked number one in the world, overcame a marathon struggle with world number 11 Germany to claim fifth spot in the 2004 World Grand Prix after a come-from-behind win which lasted more than two hours.

It was a surprise to see China playing off for fifth and sixth position but more of a surprise was the competition put up by their opponents Germany.

China started with authority on the back of some excellent play by Hao Yang and Ping Zang to cruise to a 17-7 lead. With Germany's rising star Atika Bouagaa scoring well the underdogs tried to peg back the difference but the gap was too large. Christina Benecke's spike into the net handed the first set to China.

However, in the second set the role was reversed. Germany reached an early 7-3 lead, relying on Olessya Kulakova's fast play before China replied to level the score up at 10-10. By now the action was tight, with spectacular rallies trying to break the deadlock all the way until Germany sensed victory in the set at 24-23. Kulakova spiked home the winner to level the match at one-set all.

The third set featured more hard fought points and although there were serving errors from both sides, Germany were ahead 8-6 and 16-15. But they couldn't quite pull away and China were not going to give up easily. The enthralling duel continued until Bouagaa finally scored the definitive point at 32-30 to give Germany a 2-1 lead.

In the fourth set China took advantage of a lack of combination in the German defence, breaking ahead 8-1. German captain Angelina Grün tried to inspire her troops to peg back the difference but Chinese setter Nina Song was on song with some great variety in her play. It was left to Suhong Zhou to take the match into the tie-break.

And what a tie-break it was. Both sides took control of the lead before the halfway stage when the score was level at 7-7. Up 14-12, China failed on two match points before a German attacking error gave the match to the Asian champions.