FIVB - Volleyball World League

Press release

China too strong for Bulgaria


China's new captain Zhang Lei scored eight points as the most experienced World Grand Prix team held off a determined Bulgaria, who performed admirably on debut

Macau, China, August 2, 2013 – China, under new coach Lang Ping, made a strong start to their 2013 FIVB Volleyball World Grand Prix campaign with a 3-0 (25-13, 26-24, 25-22) victory over debutants Bulgaria at the Macau Forum on Friday.

It was the first match between the two countries with China, one of only two teams (the other being Japan) to have played in all 21 editions of the World Grand Prix, starting as heavy favourites against Bulgaria who are ranked 43rd in the world.

World No. 5 China, who with 249 World Grand Prix matches is the most by any other country, started the match with a mixture of youth and experience with the likes of star spiker Wang Yimei, captain Zhang Lei and Ma Yunwen being joined by three newcomers and the recipe worked well from the start as the home side began strongly in the first set, claiming a 7-0 lead with spectacular hitting, especially from Wang and 18-year-old Zhu Ting, which Bulgaria couldn’t cope with. Zhu scored three points in a row, helping China to jump ahead to a 20-9 lead. Bulgaria failed to get the right breaks as their spikes barely penetrated the Chinese block, allowing China to take the first set 25-13.

In the second set, Bulgaria played a lot more impressively opening a supervise six point lead themselves at 10-4, with Elits Vasileva and Desislava Nikolova particularly impressive as China had difficulty on the Bulgarian serves and powerful attacks. Unforced errors by China helped Bulgaria maintain their six-point lead at the second Technical Time-Out. However, Ping introduced experienced libero Zhang Xia at this point, improving China’s reception immensely as the 2003 World Grand Prix champions battled back and managed to tie the score at 18-all with several ace serves from Yunwen and solid blocks. From then on, China managed to pace themselves to the line to claim the second set 26-24.

After the second set scare, China were more determined in the third set, opening a 12-6 lead however, much to Bulgaria’s credit, the underdogs refused to give up with captain Strashimira Filipova and Desislava Nikolova to the fore on attack and defence which helped narrow the gap to one point at 20-19. Zhu’s final kill finally put away the last set in favour of China at 25-22 as the impressive youngster top scored with 18 points while Bulgaria’s best was Vasileva with 12.

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