In a classic all-Asian duel between two unbeaten teams in the women’s Volleyball Nations League 2023, China outplayed hosts Japan on the way to a 3-0 (25-18, 27-25, 27-25) sweep of the last match of Pool 2 in Nagoya on Sunday to finish the first competition week undefeated and climb to second place in the current standings on 4-0 and 11 points, just below Poland on point ratio. After suffering their first loss in front of their fantastic fans on the stands, Japan are currently fifth on 3-1 and nine points.
China stun Japan to finish week one unbeaten
Li and captain Yuan inspire their team in handing the hosts their first defeat of VNL 2023
Published 12:27, 04 Jun 2023
Outside hitter Li Yingying was once again China’s leading scorer. She contributed a match-high 20 points, registering a 58% success rate in attack and one kill block. Middle blocker and captain Yuan Xinyue kept her cool in the most nerve-wracking moments of the game and took charge to bring in key points for her team, finishing with 10, including two aces. Japan’s captain Sarina Koga led her team again, tallying up 19 points, including two aces.
Five in a row put China in a 10-4 lead early into the first set and they never looked back. With Li Yingying leading the way in offence, they stayed in control through the rest of the set until Yuan Xinyue’s first-tempo attack finished it off at 25-18. Reacting swiftly, Japan ran off to open an eight-point gap at 16-8, but Yuan was a true leader in the money time, when her team caught up at 22-22, survived a Japanese set point and turned it around to a 27-25 win fixed by the captain herself with an ace for the winning point. In set three, Japan battled back from a five-point deficit to prompt a fierce battle through the end of the set. After 16-16, the lead changed hands a few times, but the gap never exceeded a point until the very end. China denied another two Japanese set points before Li hammered the 27-25 match winner.
“I am so happy for this win. We have prepared well for such a tough match and that’s why we could have a very good execution of the game plan,” China’s setter Diao Linyu, who finished with four kill blocks, commented after the game. “The Japanese team is very strong and all of my spikers were ready to go in the tough moments, so I could have a good choice.”
After a week of men’s VNL action, China will welcome a women’s competition week two tournament in Hong Kong opening their home campaign with a match against Canada on June 13. Japan will travel to the Brazilian capital Brasilia, where they will start off against Serbia, also on June13.
After Brazil’s straight-set win over Croatia in the first match of the day in Nagoya, Bulgaria and Germany engaged in a five-set battle. After the southern Europeans failed to convert a fourth-set match point, the Germans came back to claim a 3-2 (18-25, 25-20, 23-25, 26-24, 15-10) victory to improve to a 3-1 win-loss record and eight points into the sixth place of the current standings. Bulgaria dropped to 1-3 and five in ninth place for now. Their outside Maria Yordanova piled up 28 points, including three aces, while as many as five different players reached the double digits on the winners’ side, led by Lena Stigrot with 17 points.
The day’s action moves to Antalya, where the Pool 1 schedule features games between Thailand and Korea at 14:00 local (11:00 UTC), between Canada and Serbia at 17:00 (14:00) and between hosts Türkiye and Olympic champions USA at 20:00 (17:00).