Hosts China not only claimed their first win in Pool C of the FIVB Road to Paris Volleyball Qualifiers, but also did it with an emphatic straight-set win, with their top point-maker Zhang Jingyin back in his usual role leading the team to success. Also on Tuesday in Xi’an, Belgium upset the Netherlands’ in a three-setter, while Canada and Bulgaria pushed favourites Poland and Argentina to the limit.

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After losing to Bulgaria and Belgium on the first two competition days in Xi’an, China finally pleased the home crowd with a win, a convincing shutout of Mexico. With that, the home team climbed to sixth place in the current pool standings on a 1-2 win-loss record and three points, above seventh-placed Bulgaria on set ratio. Mexico stayed bottom of the table as the only winless team of the pool. China left little doubt over their superiority in the match against the North Americans, staying in control through most of the match. Only occasionally the Mexicans took the lead, most notably in the third set, when they had an 8-6 advantage.

Blocking was China’s weapon that made the big difference in the game. It brought the winners 12 points against only three for Mexico. The unforced errors (25 by Mexico and 15 by China) also had their major say in tilting the balance. In addition, China outspiked the opponents (35-28 in attack kills), while both sides put away three aces each. For the first time in the tournament, Zhang was China’s leading scorer. He delivered the match high of 16 points, including as any as five kill blocks, while spiking at a 65% success rate. Opposite and captain Jiang Chuan added another 11 points, all in offence, while 21-year-old outside Josue Lopez, with 10 points, including two aces and a block, was Mexico’s only player to reach the double digits.

In the day’s most exciting match, Canada was close to upsetting yet another favourite in the pool, the world’s number one team Poland, but lost the game in the overtime of the fifth set. The reigning Volleyball Nations League and European champions celebrated a victory to stay on top as the only undefeated team in the pool, but lost their second point, now standing on top of the table on 3-0 and seven points. Canada are fourth on 2-1 and six. Polish outside hitter Bartosz Bednorz was the best scorer of the match with 25 points, including five kill blocks and an ace. Middle blocker Norbert Huber and outside Kamil Semeniuk added 16 and 15 points, respectively, while Stephen Maar with 20 points and Eric Loeppky with 16 led the Canadian scorers.

Belgium, on the other hand, produced their second consecutive win in Xi’an. The team that was ranked 22nd in the world before the start of the tournament mastered a shutout of their 10th-ranked neighbours from the Netherlands and improved to second in the pool on 2-1 and seven points. The Dutch are fifth on 1-2 and four. Belgium’s star outside hitter and captain Sam Deroo delivered a match-high 21 points, including four blocks and two aces, while Dutch star opposite and captain Nimir Abdel-Aziz finished with 14 points to his name.

In the first match of the day in China, Bulgaria put up a fight against the world’s number six Argentina and pushed two of the sets to overtime, but the Tokyo 2020 Olympic bronze medallists managed to close the match in straight sets, , and rise to third in the table on 2-1 and six points, above Canada on set ratio. Bulgaria’s star opposite and captain Tsvetan Sokolov once again put away 20 points to top the scorers’ chart of the match, while his counterpart Bruno Lima led Argentina with 16.