The host China cruised into the semi-finals of the Shenzhou Cup China International Women's Volleyball Tournament after beating Poland 3-1 on Thursday for its third straight win at China's second largest port Beilun.
With the 25-20, 20-25, 25-16 and 25-17 victory, the Olympic and World Cup double winner finished top of Group A ahead of Bulgaria,who also clinched a semi-final berth with two wins against one loss.
Chu Jinling, who replaced Olympic gold medalist Wang Li'na in the starting line-up, displayed good form in the first set. Her crisp spikes from the sides made a lot of trouble for the Polish defense. After a 17-17 tie, Chu had three kills to lead a 5-1 runthat gave China a comfortable advantage at 22-18. Then Ma Yunwen sealed the set 25-20 with a smash.
"I played better than yesterday," said Chu, who finished with 22 kills to lead China with 24 points. "It's my best game in the three preliminary matches."
"In the first two matches, I was under great pressure and was too anxious, but I felt much better today," Chu added.
Poland fought back strongly in the second set, racing to a 6-2 lead on back of high quality services by Izabela Belcik. The Chinese steadily pulled within 17-16, but that's the closest they could go.
"After winning the first set, we had trouble in receiving and combination in the second," said Chinese head coach Chen Zhonghe. " Too many mistakes costed us the set."
Poland reaped 11 points from China's errors in the second set.
After the game resumed, the hosts improved their overall performance to clinch a convincing victory in the third set. Latein the fourth set, Chen rested most of his starters and gave its young players opportunities to play.
"We played very well in the first two sets. But we lost our concentration in the last two sets and struggled in all technical elements," said Belcik of Poland.
China will play the second finisher from Group B in the semi-finals while Poland goes to 5th-7th deciders.