China too powerful for Lang's All-Stars
THE Chinese women's volleyball team got off to a winning start against the Yaohan All-Star team in the Yaohan multi-national tournament last night.
The Chinese, who are undergoing a rebuilding process after their failure at last year's Barcelona Olympic Games, ran out 15-11, 15-6, 15-13 victors at the Beijing National Stadium in the first leg of a 15-game series to be played in eight different Chinese cities over the next two months.
But the All-Star team, led by former Chinese star player Lang Ping, won the admiration of the 15,000 crowd.
Hastily put together and having had just an hour's practice before the match, the All-Stars showed that they still have the expertise and experience to provide a strong challenge.
Despite their cosmopolitan makeup - they comprise American, Russian and Chinese players - they played with remarkable co-ordination and teamwork.
And 33-year-old Lang, despite her advancing years, showed that she has not lost any of her form, playing an excellent game as team captain and head coach.
Lang retired after the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics where China won gold, but the player heralded as the ''Hammer'' for her ferocious smashes, made a brief comeback when she led China to the final of the World Championships in Beijing last year.
Lang, who now lives in the US, said: ''I'm very pleased because we had never played as a team before and we only had an hour's practice, so what more could you ask for? ''We showed that we have a few wins in the making so we could give the Chinese team a real run for their money.'' The All-Stars are made up of America's Caren Kemner and Kimberly Oden, Russia's Euguenia Artamonova and Alexandre Kavounov plus semi-retired former Chinese national players including Wu Dan, Fang Hongbin and Ma Zhaohui.
The team looked capable of making a comeback when they led the third set 11-10 but the Chinese regained their composure to close out the set and match in 11/2 hours, having won the first two sets in style.
Cuba won an exhibition game against the Chinese B squad with a 11-15, 17-15, 15-5 victory.
The Cubans capped a marvellous year for themselves, having won the Women's Super League plus the Hutchison-Telecom Cup and the World Super Four tournament, both played in Hong Kong.
The next multi-national tournament will take place in Shanghai tomorrow and the event will then move to Nanjing, Wuhan, Guangzhou, Fuzhou, Qingdao, Jinan and back to Beijing.