Zhu Ting back with a bang: China cruise past Argentina in Nations League Hong Kong opener
The star wing spiker contributes 16 points after being rested for the first two rounds of the series
Superstar captain Zhu Ting made her considerable presence felt with a 16-point FIVB Volleyball Nations League debut as China defeated Argentina 3-0 (25-22, 25-16, 25-11) on Tuesday night at the Hong Kong Coliseum.
The strength in depth the world’s number-one ranked team enjoy was reflected in that fact that Zhu had been rested for the VNL’s first two rounds. The 23-year-old wing spiker had four points in her first stanza of action as she started to warm to the task ahead.
Zhu then opened up the second set with a monstrous spike from the left-hand side that didn’t so much set China’s wheels in motion but shifted them into overdrive.
The star was there for the match’s major highlights - including four blocks - but both wing spiker Liu Xiaotong (nine points) and middle blocker Yan Ni (eight points) helped to keep the crowd on its feet.
Argentina came in to the match having never beaten China, and they faced a full house that simply refused to entertain the thought that drought might ever be broken in Hong Kong.
But the South Americans gave it their all, with wing spiker Anahi Florencia Tosi (10 points) leading the way and she had support from middle blocker Florencia Natasha Busquets Reyes (six points).
Coach Lang Ping is still working out the right line-up for China – who as hosts are already qualified for the finals – so there is still plenty of time for other players to shine, too, and the rotation system she has so far employed will continue to get a work out.
Lang said before the match that these early rounds were like “training sessions”. It will no doubt help her efforts now that Zhu is back to lead by example.
China’s record in the VNL so far moved to 4-3 with Japan and then Italy to come in Hong Kong – both matches they’ll be expected to win.
It was always going to be a tough ask for Argentina, given they’d not yet won a match in the inaugural VNL – and they now remain the only one of the 16 nations in action not to have so far.
In an earlier match, Japan rallied behind wing spiker Ai Kurogo’s 16 points to beat Italy 3-2 (20-25, 25-23, 20-25, 25-23, 15-11) in a thrilling clash that had the fans on the edge of their seats. The Italians will be looking to recover against Argentina today while China take on the Japanese in the feature match of the tournament.