China seek revenge against Italians in Hong Kong leg title showdown
Mainlanders out to make amends following their defeat in the opening leg in Sassari
China and Italy set up a deciding showdown in the World Grand Prix Hong Kong leg as both teams claimed their second win in the three-day tournament.
The mainlanders scored an emphatic 3-0 straight-sets victory over Japan at the Coliseum in Hung Hom, while Italy were equally impressive against Thailand in the earlier match.
Promising spiker Zhu Ting scored a team-high 22 points in front of a crowd of 9,500 - 16 through spikes - and had six successful blocks, too, as China rushed to the 25-16, 25-14, 25-22 win in a mere 80 minutes.
Captain Hui Ruoqi, who also netted nine points, said they never expected such an impressive score.
"We had expected a five-set match," said Hui, also a spiker.
"We haven't played them since the World Grand Prix last year and they have many new faces and some new strategies. We studied their match against Italy on the opening day and it helped us."
Hui said the Japanese were a team in transition and therefore "may not be at their best at this moment".
"We are also learning match by match and although we had some ups and downs, we were quick to respond and overcame the problems," said Hui.
China coach Lang Ping was impressed by the 19-year-old Zhu, saying the youngster had played a pivotal role in their attack.
"Japan are always strong in defence, but Zhu's power created a lot of difficulties for them," said Lang. "We also tried to increase her speed of attack to make her an all-round attacker."
Against Italy, who beat Thailand 25-19, 25-21, 25-23 in the other match, Lang expects a tough clash to determine the winners of the Hong Kong leg. "We need more speed and variation in our attack," said Lang.
"I know the Italians well as they have vast experience and are strong blockers. If we only rely on our power to attack, we will face a lot of difficulties."
Italy coach Marco Bonitta was tight-lipped about their tactics against China.
"China are a young team, but have a lot of experience," he said. "We also have young players with strong potential."
Italy beat China 3-2 when they met in the opening leg in Sassari, Italy, last week.
A total of 28 teams feature in the 2014 World Grand Prix, with the top five nations after a three-week series, along with hosts Japan, meeting in the finals in Tokyo from August 20-24.