China seal epic five-set volleyball Grand Prix win over United States
Mainlanders take Hong Kong leg after narrow five-set result over world's best team
China team coach Lang Ping described the five-set epic final with the United States as a "meaningful challenge", as the mainlanders triumphed in nail-biting fashion to claim the Hong Kong leg of the volleyball World Grand Prix at the Coliseum last night.
In an encounter lasting two hours and nine minutes, the mainlanders dropped the opening set to the reigning world champions 25-22. China coach Lang Ping substituted middle blocker Yang Junjing with Yan Ni at the start of the second set to strengthen attacks and the plan worked well.
China took the second and third sets 25-13 and 25-22 respectively before the Americans levelled the score by taking the fourth 25-19.
The two finalists will meet again in the final round of the Grand Prix in Omaha next week.
In yesterday's earlier match, Japan settled for third place after beating Thailand 3-0. The Japanese put captain Kimura Saori, who had been used sparingly over the last two days, back in the start line-up.
The versatile 28 year-old and her compatriot Nagaoka Miyu top-scored with 15 points each to lead Japan to a 25-19, 25-21, 25-15 win.
"Every time we face Thailand we need to implement a complex game plan. I think we did a good job today and excelled in blocking," said Saori.
"Our young players gained experience in the Grand Prix. I hope they can perform better in the World Cup, which will be held at home [next month]. We hope to qualify for the Olympics through this tournament."