Argentina make China work hard for victory
China's young guns were given a stern test as they were forced to rally to defeat Argentina 3-1 in their second pool A match at the World Grand Prix women's volleyball tournament yesterday.
Having beaten Puerto Rico in straight sets on the opening day, the Chinese women found themselves one set down against the South Americans at the Macau Forum, but raised their game to win the match 23-25, 25-18, 25-22, 25-18 in 90 minutes.
Coach Yu Juemin praised Argentina's performance, saying their two spikers did a good job penetrating China's defence. He also urged his charges to learn quickly from their experience at the international level as they build towards the London Games next month.
'We only started playing preparation matches in May against Italy and many of our young players need more exposure at the international level,' said the coach. 'This is a process they have to go through, but they have to pick up the pace as quickly as possible as time is running short.
'Against Argentina, we committed too many mistakes, especially in our serve, which should not happen in an event at this level.'
In the absence of injured spiker Wang Yimei, Yang Junjing and Hui Ruoqi had to share the attacking duties and they did not let their team down, respectively coming away with a team-high 16 and 15 points.
Youngster Zeng Chunlei, from the Beijing team, also had an outstanding match, scoring 12 points.
The 22-year-old, called up to the squad this year to strengthen their firepower, played the entire for the first time.
'We have a very good team spirit and that's why we were able to recover quickly after conceding the first set,' she said. 'I am very happy to have this opportunity but I still have to improve as my game is not stable enough, especially when handling critical situations.'
Yu said every match was important for Zeng as she had to learn as much as possible before the Games. 'She only joined us this year, but she has the potential to become a key member provided she can learn quickly in the international arena,' the coach said.
In yesterday's other match, Thailand continued their winning streak with a 25-21, 25-20, 25-22 victory over Puerto Rico. Malika Kanthong scored a team-high 12 points, 11 from spiking and one from blocking. The Caribbeans, who have lost both matches so far, will take on Argentina today, while Thailand will meet China to decide the pool winners.