Sapporo, Japan, Sep 23 : When two unbeaten teams met, only one could keep its clean record and China walked down the court as winners with a straight-set triumph over the United States here on Monday at the FIVB Women's World Cup.
Captain Zhu Ting had a game-high 23 points in the 25-16, 25-17, 25-22 victory. Karsta Lowe scored 10 points to lead the American side that was troubled by 16 errors. The United States holds a 4-2 head-to-head advantage over China in their six encounters over the recent two years, with all wins from the Nations League and losses from the 2018 World Championship.
The last time the two sides met in the World Cup in 2015, the United States had a straight-set victory over China, which still won the title at last. The game was close from the very beginning before China spurred a 5-1 run after leading by 7-6, which forced the United States to two timeouts, but only to see China surge ahead 18-9 with another 6-2 run. Kelsey Robinson and Zhu both displayed their powerful spikes thereafter, and China maintained their lead to claim the first set 25-16 with an ace from Yan Ni.
Lowe led the Americans' attacking charges in the second set to trail closely behind a Chinese side fired by Zhu and Zhang Changning. But frequent errors, especially in service, were too costly for the Nations League champions, who only managed five points after 13-12 down while China enjoyed a two-set advantage following excellent plays by Zhu, MVP of the last World Cup.
Trailing from 7-6 in the third set, Yuan Xinyue's serve powered the Rio 2016 champions to a 6-0 run which greatly boosted the morale. Andrea Drews, Chiaka Ogbogu and captain Larson kept challenging China's defense to keep the suspense and forced coach Lang Ping to call China's first timeout after China's advantage was narrowed to two points at 19-17.
Team USA saw a chance to catch up following two thunderous spikes by Drews, chasing the deficit to a single point down by 22-21, but three wonderful attacking plays by Yuan, Zhu and Zhang enable China to clinch the victory for China 25-22.
After the commanding win in such a match that was believed to decide the eventual champions, China lead the 12-participating teams with a 7-0 record. China will play Kenya in its last match in Sapporo on Tuesday. (XINHUA)