Errors on China's spikes tied the match at 16-16 and Serbia strengthened their blocks and spikes to win the second set 27-25 and level the match at 1-1.
The third set was close throughout, although when Serbia moved into a 10-7 lead, China called a time-out. By the second technical time-out China had moved into a 16-15 lead, and with Zhu Ting prominent again, China moved away to take the third set 25-20.
In the fourth set, China needed persistent spikes and blocks to keep the match close after a strong start by Serbia and turned that into a 16-13 lead at the second technical time-out, but Serbia responded to grab the fourth set 25-23 and force the match into a tie-break.
China absolutely dominated the tie-break, and eventually took the deciding set 15-5 to close out a 3-2 win.
Zhu Ting (18) and captain Hui Ruoqi (18) were China's leading scorers, but Serbia's Ana Bjelica was the match's top scorer with 28 points.
A 3-2 defeat means Serbia qualify for the tournament finals in Sapporo in third place with 23 points, behind China and Brazil.
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