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China return to the winning path

China claimed their first victory of the second round by outdueling Finland in five sets
Wroclaw, Poland, September 13, 2014 – China prevailed against Finland in a dramatic five-set match 3-2 (22-25, 25-22, 25-23, 20-25, 16-14) to score their first points in the second round of the FIVB Men’s World Championship at Centennial Hall of Wroclaw on Saturday.

Key points

•It is the highest scoring match of the 2014 edition with a total of 217 points
•China snapped their six-match losing streak in 2014
• Finland have lost five of their last five after winning their first two

The five-set win gave China two points while Finland (3) obtained one point in the loss with both teams are out of contention for the third round.

Zhong Weijun led China with 21 points while Geng Xin added 14 in the victory, including four blocks. Urpo Sivula topped Finland with 15 points, followed by Mikko Ovainen and Olli-Pekka Ojansivu each with 13 tallies.

The two teams had no chance to qualify to the next round, so they played with no pressure. The Finns took a lead thanks to fantastic Olli Kunnari’s service as he produced two aces. Before the first technical time-out, the Scandinavians had 8-6 lead. With the spikes by the likes of Olli-Pekka Ojansivu, Finland managed to score another two points, so that the result was 14-10. China’s team showed a magnificent devotion in reception as libero Qi Ren was receiving quite difficult balls. However, with lots of problems with finishing moves, they could not catch up the opponents. The Asian side were looking for their chance in the promising Zhi Yuan kills but focused Finland’s team were controlling the game. Captain Weijun Zhong defended the first Finish set ball but with Runming Li’s service mistake, Finland won 25-22.

The second set was more leveled and until the first technical time out, neither Finland nor China could take a clear lead. Following the break, the world No. 19 ranked side jumped out to 11-7 lead as Zhong displayed a powerful kill and the Finns made some simple errors in the attack. Finland wanted to change the result with Ojansivu  or Matti Oivane’s spikes but the concentrated China was hard to stop. They were effective in block and several wise moves by the likes of Xin Geng’s dink gave them  a 17-11 lead. When Finnish situation became difficult, head coach Tuomas Sammelvuo’s time-out obviously motivated his team as with spectacular spikes they caused the result 20-20. With Yuan’s kill, China obtained a first set ball which was used by Zhong. His block-out move gave them a victory 25-22.

In the next set, the teams were exchanging points again. They had problems with taking a lead due to a great number of mistakes. Not until the second technical time-out finished, did China’s team managed to gain a two-point lead for a while. They were scoring points mainly with Geng, Zhong and Yuan as they beat Finnish defence for a couple of times. However, Finland did not want to give up easily. Fantastic kill was shown by Mikko Oivanen as he cheated the Chinese block. In a decisive moment, both the teams were desperately fighting for every point, so that the score was 20-20. As it turned out, China had stronger nerves. Again, Zhong finished the set by a block-out move with the result 25-23.

The Finns got back on the court as a changed team. They quickly managed to take a five-point lead, so that for the first technical time-out, the scoreboard showed 8-3. Astonishing kill by Urpo Sivula and satisfying double block by Jukka Lehtonen and Mikko Oivanen were a big surprise for China. Following the break, the Scandinavians scored another two points of leading. The helpless Asian side were making more and more errors as they could not find a way to defeat the opponents. Head coach Guochen Xie tried to somehow mobilize his players with time-outs and substitutes. Surprisingly, China recovered from a seven-point loss and managed to lead to 21-18 score. However, the world No. 26 ranked team stayed focused until the end, so that they won 25-20 as Sivula produced the unstoppable kill for the next time.

In the tie-break, the teams were fighting point-by-point but China’s team were showing a bit better level of the game. Finnish players were making every effort to oppose the opponents, so that in the heat of a struggle, libero Lauri Kerminen was hurt but nothing serious. The Europeans were producing admirable spikes, mostly by Sivula, but with receiving and service errors they could not gain a lead. A turning point was Zhichao Kou’s kill which caused the Chinese leading 13-11. The Asians gained the victory as Yuan’s service was not received and the set was finished with the result 16-14.


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