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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Aug. 17, 2007)
The U.S., ranked seventh in the current FIVB world rankings, and China both hold 4-3 records during the FIVB World Grand Prix through the first seven of nine preliminary matches. The Americans face Cuba (4-3) on Saturday at 4:30 p.m. local time (2:30 a.m. MT) in a rematch. Team USA defeated Cuba 25-19, 25-22, 21-25, 25-22 on Aug. 10 in Russia. Earlier today, Netherlands (4-3) defeated Cuba 27-25, 25-27, 25-18, 25-20 in Macau.
China defeated the U.S. 25-21, 30-28, 25-20 on Aug. 5 during the World Grand Prix’s opening weekend in Poland.
All four teams in Group I at Macau have 4-3 records and fighting to earn one of five open berths into the World Grand Prix Finals (China receives automatic bid). In addition, Japan and Poland are 4-3. Brazil leads the World Grand Prix standings with a 7-0 record, while Italy and Russia are 5-2. The U.S. ranks ninth in the standings due to its 1.003 point ratio being the lowest among 4-3 teams.
The top five teams in addition to Finals Round host China advance for the chance for the Grand Prix title in Ningbo, China. A round-robin format will declare the champion.
After seven lead changes and 10 ties, China broke a 14-all tie in the opening set with a 5-0 run and went on to win 25-18 as the American committed 10 errors in the first period. China scored 11 of the final 13 points of the second set to win 25-17 after trailing 15-14 with 12 ties in the stanza. The U.S. held an early 5-3 lead in the third set, but China methodically inched its way to a 25-22 victory keyed by a 4-1 spurt when leading 15-14. Team USA scored only 12 times on its own serve during the match, and only six times over the final two sets.
“We lost concentration, but we learned from this match,” U.S. Women’s National Team Head Coach ‘Jenny’ Lang Ping said. “We hope we will play better tomorrow.”
“I believe that this is our best match of this year World Grand Prix and this can be regarded as the most successful match,” China Head Coach Zhonghe Chen said.
Tayyiba Haneef-Park (Laguna Hills, Calif.) turned in a match-high 17 points on 16 kills and an ace for Team USA. She committed just one hitting error on 25 attempts for a .640 hitting percentage. Danielle Scott-Arruda (Baton Rouge, La.) chipped in nine points via six kills and three blocks. Heather Bown (Yorba Linda, Calif.), who had not seen action since the first match of the World Grand Prix on Aug. 3, added four kills and two blocks after subbing into the match in the first set. Kim Glass (Lancaster, Pa.) was held to four kills and a block, while Katie Wilkins (Lakeside, Calif.) added four points on two kills, one block and one ace. Robyn Ah Mow-Santos (Honolulu) rounded out the scoring with a block to go with 32 assists. Nicole Davis (Stockton, Calif.) provided a team-leading six digs to go with nine excellent service receptions on 15 attempts.
USA out-blocked China 8-6, but the Americans were hurt by 21 errors in the match to only 11 by the Chinese. China attacked at a .363 hitting percentage to Team USA’s .224. China held a 4-2 advantage in the service ace category, as well as a 25-18 margin in digs. China’s service reception netted 40 excellent receptions on 52 USA serves for a 73.08 efficiency. In contrast, the U.S. converted on 29 of China’s 70 serves into excellent receptions for 35.71 percent.
“I think my players played very well, especially at the beginning,” Lang Ping said. “There were some problems with the passing and we made some errors. The China team played very fast, and we could not play well under their speed.”
Lang Ping started Ah Mow-Santos at setter, Scott-Arruda and Joines at middle blocker, Glass and Wilkins at outside hitter, and Haneef-Park at opposite. Davis is the designated libero for the Group E portion of the World Grand Prix schedule. Bown entered as a sub in the first set and started the second set in place of Joines. Candace Lee (Eugene, Ore.) was subbed into the match in the back row in all three sets. Nnamani subbed into the match in the first set, then started the second and third sets in place of Glass, who re-entered as a sub in the final two sets. Cassie Busse (Prior Lake, Minn.) entered as a late sub in the third set.
Juan Li paced China with 14 points on 12 kills and two blocks, while Ming Xue contributed 10 kills and two blocks in the victory. Suhong Zhou provided seven kills and an ace for eight Chinese points, while Yuehong Zhang charted seven kills.
Poland (4-3) upset Russia (5-2) 25-21, 25-19, 28-26 in Group G action at Osaka, while Japan (4-3) blanked Kazakhstan (1-6) 25-20, 25-22, 25-19. Brazil (7-0) defeated Dominican Republic (0-7) 25-22, 25-19, 25-17 in Group H held at Taipei, Chinese Taipei. Italy also defeated Chinese Taipei (0-7) 25-20, 25-17, 25-21 at Taipei.
China grabbed an early 4-2 lead on a 3-0 run in the opening set as the Americans had two early errors. Wilkins powered a kill down and followed it up with an ace to tie the set at 6-all. Glass scored the American’s third consecutive point with a kill to push the U.S. into the lead at 7-6. China scored two straight points to go into the first technical timeout leading 8-7. However, the U.S. answered with a Glass kill and Scott-Arruda block to give the U.S. a 9-8 advantage. China scored three unanswered points to yield an 11-9 advantage. The U.S. responded with a Glass kill and point off a Chinese error to knot the score at 11-all. Haneef-Park put down a kill and was followed by a Scott-Arruda block to give the U.S. the lead back at 13-12, but it was short-lived as China netted back-to-back points for a 14-13 lead. China scored five straight points to assume a 19-14 advantage. After the U.S. stopped the run with a point off a Chinese error, China increased its margin to six at 21-15 with back-to-back points. Haneef-Park turned in a kill after a Chinese error to whittle the deficit to four at 21-17. China scored the final three points of the opening set for a 25-18 victory. Haneef-Park led the U.S. in the first set with five points, all on kills.
Team USA scored three straight points on kills by Haneef-Park and Bown around a Chinese error to lift the Americans into the first technical timeout leading 8-6. China tied the set at 10-all, then scored consecutive points going into the second technical timeout leading 16-15. China added two more points to the run to establish a three-point cushion at 18-15. China built a six-point, 22-16 advantage with a 4-0 run. The Chinese ended the set on a 3-0 run for a 25-17 victory. Scott-Arruda turned in five points in the period. China scored three points in the set via the service ace.
The U.S. grabbed a two-point cushion early in the third set at 3-1, its first lead of more than one point in the match, on a Haneef-Park kill and Chinese error. China came back to tie the set at 5-all, then forged into the lead at 8-6 on three straight points. Team USA tied the set at 13-all on back-to-back Chinese errors, but China responded with two points in a row for itself at 15-13. China a point on both ends of the second technical timeout to go ahead 17-14. The Chinese lead increased to four points at 19-15 on back-to-back points, then extended to five at 22-17. Haneef-Park sliced into the deficit with a kill and ace putting the score at 22-19. Scott-Arruda and Bown saved two match points with kills to close to within 24-22, but it was not enough as China closed out the match with a 25-22 victory in the third set.