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Review 2013 – China fight back to take Girls' U18 World Championship

China's players celebrate with coach Dong Ruijun after winning the Girls' U18 World Championship
 Lausanne, Switzerland, December 26, 2013 – As part of an end-of-year review series, www.fivb.org looks back at the FIVB Girls’ U18 World Championship in Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand.

China may not have begun the tournament in the way that they would have wanted, but they certainly finished in a manner that left those watching in little doubt they were worthy winners. 

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 Chatchai Hall to claim the U18 world title for the fourth time. The victory also took them above Brazil in all-time wins. Their gold medals now sit alongside those won in 2001, 2003 and 2007. 

Xinyue Yuan was voted tournament MVP and maintained her remarkable form in the final to lead the scoring with 16 points, while Yunlu Wang was not far behind with 14. 

“I am very happy that we are the winners today because we had our best performance in the competition and showed good skills and passion,” China captain Sun Haiping said. “We were able to control the entire match.” 

Few would have picked China as eventual gold medallists following their first two matches when 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 hosts Thailand, whom they subsequently knocked out with a 3-0 victory. 

By now they had begun to find their rhythm, but the Dominican Republic proved to be tough quarterfinal opposition before China prevailed 3-2. They also needed five sets again in the semifinals to beat Peru, before they found their very best form against USA in the championship match. 

“We played very well,” China 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 tournaments.” 

Despite the loss, USA had the consolation of knowing they had achieved their country’s best ever finish in the tournament. Jordyn Poulter was voted best setter, while Audriana Fitzmorris was chosen alongside Xinyue Yuan as the best middle blocker.

“We had never thought that we could come this far,” USA captain Taylor Tashima said after the final. “We just kept practicing while we were in training sessions and when we played we managed to win each game.”

Brazil meanwhile maintained their remarkable run in the tournament by winning the bronze medal with a 3-0 (25-19, 25-23, 25-12) victory over South American rivals Peru. It was their ninth set of medals and second bronze to go along three golds (1997, 2005, 2009) and four silvers. 

“Today it was a very good match,” coach Mauricio Thomas said. “I think this match was important for our team and although we couldn’t reach the final of this World Championship, we are happy with the bronze medal that we won. Peru are one of the strongest teams in the championship so we played with confidence and spirit. We had to put a lot of hard work and effort into beating them.”

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