United States hand China a lesson as they clinch Hong Kong leg of FIVB World Grand Prix
Chinese coach Lang Ping unfazed despite her charges suffering a shock 3-0 defeat at the hands of the Americans six weeks before they meet again in their group at the Rio Olympics
Chinese coach Lang Ping put on a brave face despite watching her charges crumble to a worrisome 3-0 defeat to rivals the United States in Sunday’s grand finale of the FIVB World Grand Prix.
China had been expected to prevail against the Americans who will be the Chinese opponents in their group in Rio in six weeks’ but they were outmatched this time.
The Americans served extremely well and their spikes were terrific as they avenged their 3-1 defeat to China in the Ningbo leg of the series two weeks ago. This time, the Americans registered a straight forward 25-19, 25-21, 25-17 victory before a disbelieving 10,000-strong partisan crowd at the Coliseum.
Lang wasn’t too worried about the setback, which doesn’t bode well to their ambitions of winning gold in Rio, 12 years after their Olympic triumph at the 2004 Athens Games.
“Our goal in the World Grand Prix is to train our players and give them the opportunity to learn.
“The only regret I have is that we didn’t deliver a more competitive match today,” said Lang.
“Serves from the US destroyed our rhythm of play. They also played with a faster pace than we expected. We were playing catch up.
“We have a lot to evaluate and summarise. This is a good lesson. Our players are still young and may not be able to tackle a difficult situation without making sacrifices.”
China captain Hui Ruoqi said the team’s form fluctuated during the match.
“In our last encounter [in Ningbo], the Americans didn’t receive well so we had the advantage in serves. Today it was the complete opposite. I think this is the main cause for our failure,” said Hui.
“I think we messed up a bit in the middle of the match. This resulted in a poor coordination in blocking and defence.”
American MVP Jordan Larson-Burbach said the victory was sweet and a confidence booster.
“This is obviously a great confidence builder. But we also have other things to focus on to be a better team as well,” said Jordan.
“We don’t have any expectation going into the match. But I thought we had a good game plan and we executed very well. We served the right stuff and we had good block and defence.”
Meanwhile, Netherlands booked the last place in the Grand Prix Finals to be held from July 6 to 10 in Bangkok with their 3-0 victory [26-24, 25-20, 25-22] over Germany in an earlier match.
The Netherlands were tied in the number of wins with Serbia, who beat Thailand on the same day in the Kyoto leg in Japan, but the Dutch bagged the last ticket with higher ranking points.
Celeste Plak of Netherlands said qualifying for the finals was crucial for the team ahead of the Rio Olympics. Her side’s last appearance at the Games was twenty years ago in Atlanta.
“This is what we came for,” said the 20-year-old outside hitter, “It is important for us to play matches at a high level. The fact that we can play the finals in Bangkok is a really good opportunity for us to prepare well for the Olympics.”