China overcomes Cuba to win Beilun Cup women's volleyball invitational
The Chinese team, who went down in five set to Cuba last week in another international tournament also held in China, took sweet revenge on their arch rivals by prevailing 25-18, 15-25, 18-25, 25-16, 15-11 in one hour 38 minutes.
China, who had earlier crushed the Dominican Republic and the Netherlands in straight sets, kept a perfect sheet. Cuba was the runner-up with a 2-1 win-loss record. The Dominican Republic (1-2)was third and the Netherlands (0-3) finished fourth.
Rolled on by sizzling spikes from Sun Xiaoqing and Li Juan, a fired-up China dominated the first set, but the Cubans were unstoppable in the following two sets as their powerful serving held China at bay.
Head coach Chen Zhonghe made a change to the Chinese line-up at the start of the fourth set, replacing Sun with Yang Hao. The change turned out effective as China built up a fluid attacking rhythm which Brazil could not stem. On their second set point at 24-16, Zhou Suhong made no mistake with a kill to tie the score 2-2.
Teams traded points in the opening stages of the decider. When both sides were locked at 5-5, China won five points successively to surge ahead. Leading at 14-8, however, China could only clinch the winner on its fourth match point when Ramirez Echevarria Daimi's serve fell into the net.
Chen said that China and Cuba now have something in common _ inconsistent play.
"Cuba was not in form in the first set, while we were at low in the third and fourth," he said. "We will focus on this problem and try to remedy it in future."
Li Juan top scored for China with 16 points, from 13 spikes and three blocks. Captain Zhou Suhong added 12 points and Sun Xiaoqing had 7 points.
Cuba's leading scorer was Yumilka Ruiz Luaces, who smashed 17 kills in her 18-point haul.
After losing their first two games to Cuba and China, the Dominicans regained a bit of confidence with a 25-21, 20-25, 22-25,25-17, 17-15 victory over the Netherlands in the day's other game.