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China, Dominican Republic win openers at China women's volleyball international tournament

Star spiker Zhu Ting jumps high to spike past Belgium’s double blocking

Ningbo, China, June 27, 2014 - China and Dominican Republic clinched their opening victory over Belgium and Thailand, respectively, on the first day of the China Women's Volleyball International Tournament on Friday.

The Chinese national team coached by veteran Lang Ping overcame a shaky start to rally past Belgium 3-1, for an opening victory in the four-team tournament.

Chinese star spiker Zhu Ting led with 21 points, including two blocks, while opposite Zeng Chunlei added 10 kills, four blocks and an ace.

With new setter Wang Na and wing-spiker Wang Huimin in the starting line-up, the Chinese women struggled with their reception in the first set. The Belgians pulled away from a 13-all tie to a big cushion at 21-14 and went on to take the opener at 25-18.

China coach Lang Ping replaced the two Wangs with veteran setter Wei Qiuyue and captain Hui Ruoqi late in the first set. The adjustment worked terrifically well in the second set, where China staged an amazing 9-0 run midway for a high-powered comeback attacks to trounce Belgium 25-12.

"Wei played well and she helped us out with her experience," Lang Ping said. "Of course we will use veteran players, but we also need to give the inexperienced players opportunities to play so that we can have more and more players to use in the future."

The Belgians rebounded at the start of the third set as they battled for a tiny advantage at 5-4. The Chinese women soon answered with a 6-1 run to overtake the lead at 10-6 and never looked back.

The fourth set was hotly contested until China pulled away with an 8-2 run to make it 22-16. Belgium steadily cut it down to 23-20, only to find Yang Junjing score on a blitz attack and Xu Yunli clinch the match winner for China with a kill.

Earlier in the afternoon, Dominican Republic beat Thailand with a 3-1 score line.The Asian champions started well in the first match, jumping to a 6-0 lead in the first set led by the 1.76m Kanika Thipachot, including a series of mistakes of the Dominican Republic. Yonikaira Pena finally ended the scoring drought of Dominican Republic with a smart dink to spark a 4-0 run that pulled her side within 6-4.

Thailand held the lead to 15-12 before Dominican Republic staged another 4-0 run to overtake the lead at 16-15. Then the two sides traded leads to tie it at 23-all while Dominican Republic ran off two points in a row to clinch the opener at 25-23.

Dominican Republic continued their momentum to build a 6-2 advantage early in the second set. The Thais worked steadily to cut their deficit to 10-8, but Bethania De La Cruz answered with two kills in a row and a solid block against Kanika helped Dominican Republic enlarge their lead to 13-8.

Falling behind 22-13, Thailand managed to pull within 23-18 to force Dominican Republic coach Marcos Kwiek to call a timeout. After the game resumed, Kanika scored another point for Thailand with a smart play to make it a four-point game, but Gina Mambru came back with a fine drop shot and De La Cruz drove a ball out to go out of bounds to wrap up the set at 25-19.

Coming back with improved services and defence, Thailand dominated the third set as they established a 19-13 lead and went on to pull one set back at 25-16.

The fourth set was hotly contested as the Dominican Republic pulled away with a 6-1 burst to go up at 24-16. The Thais beat off four match points, but a serving mistake of Hattaya Bamrungsuk awarded the victory to Dominican Republic.

The competition serves as a preview of the World Grand Prix as the four teams will be participating in the FIVB's premier annual women's tournament.

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