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China and the Dominican Republic win opening match at International Women's Volleyball tournament

China's new setter Bian Yuqian, right, stretches to set the ball

Luohe, China, May 29, 2010 - Hosts China held off Turkey in a five set thriller while the Dominican Republic beat Cuba on Saturday on the opening day of the 2010 China International Women's Volleyball Tournament.


China defeated Turkey 3-2 (25-22, 25-27, 25-21, 23-25, 15-13) as 19-year-old Hui Ruoqi earned 21 kills from 44 attempts and four blocks as well as two aces to lead the side with 27 points under the guidance of Wang Baoquan, who took charge of the Beijing Olympic bronze medallists two months ago.

Chen Liyi, who came from the bench to replace star spiker Wang Yimei in the second set, contributed 20 points on her international debut with Xue Ming, Li Juan and Xu Yunli adding 10, nine and eight points respectively.

"Hui and Chen played very well today," 49-year-old Wang, who had taken the Tianjin women's team to win seven Chinese National League titles before becoming the coach of the national team, said. "However, our middle hitters were not able to play to their full strength, because our young setter (Bian) was not fully prepared to feed them well enough."

It was also the first international match for 19-year-old setter Bian Yuqian, who was pushed to the starting position following the absence of Chinese captain Wei Qiuyue who was suffering from a fever soon after the team's arrival in Luohe late on Tuesday.

The Dominican Republic stunned Cuba 3-1 (25-19, 25-14, 19-25, 25-17) in its opening match. Lisvel Elisa Eve Mejia had 16 kills and four aces to lead Dominican Republic with 20 points while  Herrera Dahiana Burgos added 13.

With an average age of 20.4 years old, the inexperienced Cuban team looked sluggish in the first two sets. Going down tamely 25-14 in the second set, Cuba fought back in the third, jumping to an 8-4 lead at the first technical time-out and extending it to 13-6 on back of improved team play and a few sound blocking efforts.

The Dominican Republic was able to cut the deficit to 17-15 thanks to a 5-0 run led by Herrera Dahiana Burgos, but the Cuban girls found their rhythm once again to surge ahead before Yanelis Santos Allegene served out the set with an ace.

However, Cuba suddenly lost its momentum once more at the start of the fourth set. Struggling with poor receiving, the Cuban girls surrendered the set and the match.

Carcaces finished with 20 smashes in 45 tries, but her efforts were  in vain as the Dominican Republic reaped 35 points from Cuban errors.

Both China and the Dominican Republic will be using this tournament as preparation for the 2010 World Grand Prix which starts on August 6.


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