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Bronze medal restores confidence of China's women volleyballers
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16:04, August 23, 2008


Players of China celebrate their victory over Cuba after Women's Bronze Medal Match of Beijing 2008 Olympic Games volleyball event in Beijing, China, Aug. 23, 2008. China beat Cuba 3-1 and grabbed the bronze. (Xinhua Photo)


Just as their favorite song - "Sunshine Comes after Rainstorm" - goes, a smiling Chinese team rallied to remedy their semifinal loss with a consoling bronze medal at the Olympic women's volleyball on Saturday.

The three-time Olympic champion Cuba finished their Beijing journey with a disappointing fourth place.

Inspired by the deafening cheers of more than 14,000 Chinese fans, the host beat Cuba 25-16, 21-25, 25-13 and 25-20 in the pride-saving match.


Players of China celebrate their victory over Cuba after Women's Bronze Medal Match of Beijing 2008 Olympic Games volleyball event in Beijing, China, Aug. 23, 2008. China beat Cuba 3-1 and grabbed the bronze. (Xinhua Photo)


"They were so hopeless that I believed they gave up at the third set," said a home fan Yi Sheng, referring to the disappointing performances of the Chinese women in the semifinal against Brazil on Thursday. The defending champion lost surprisingly in straight sets and they only took 14 points in the third set.

"But today, I saw perseverance on them again, the most valuable quality which I think helped them win the Athens gold and will help to overcome the adversities to be stronger in the future, " the 28-year-old sales manager from a Beijing-based oil company told Xinhua after the match.

"In this aspect, the bronze medal means much more than the gold medal," he said.

Due to a slow start, China opened the match with a dismal 2-6, when the ace spikers Wang Yimei and captain Feng Kun scored five points to help the host take over lead 7-6. Though the Cubans followed up closely, the Chinese managed to keep a slight advantage to 14-13.

China launched a stunning 8-2 run to enlarge the gap to 22-15. Wang's service error helped Cuba pull back one point, but her two ace serves helped China take the set 25-16.

The Cuban spikers came back to life in the second set to establish an early led 9-4 with quick spikes of Nancy Carrillo and Yanelis Santos. China strived to catch up before a 17-all, when Carrillo and another high jumper Rosir Calderon broke the tie and crushed China's attempts to bounce back with attacks from the left flank and the middle court, 24-21 in favor of Cuba.

Veteran captain Yumilka Ruiz sealed the set 25-21 with an unanswered spike.

China staged a brilliant attacking wave from the start of the following set with a 8-4 lead and extended the winning momentum to take the set 25-13.

China took an early lead 10-5 and 15-10 in the fourth set, when Cuba surged back 20-21 with the astonishing performance of its wing hitter Calderon. But that was the furthest they could go. China clinched the meaning victory 25-20 with a spike of middle blocker Zhao Ruirui.

Later on Saturday night, Brazil, who sailed into final without losing a single set, will fight for their first-ever Olympic gold against the United States. The latter, led by China-born head coach Lang Ping, made their historic return to the gold medal match in 24 years after toppling Cuba 3-0.

Source: Xinhua

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1 China 47 17 25 89
2 USA 31 36 35 102
3 Great Britain 18 13 13 44
4 Russia 17 18 22 57
5 Germany 14 9 13 36
6 Australia 12 14 16 42

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