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U.S. upsets host China to ensure women's volleyball quarterfinal berth
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10:22, August 16, 2008

High spirit U.S. girls advanced to the Olympic volleyball quarterfinals after outlasting defending champion China with a pulsating 3-2 victory on Friday night.

As top four of the six-team group will survive, the United States has collected three wins after beating China. The host' fate is still pending for a record of two wins and two losses.

The U.S. squad, coached by one of China's most respected spikers Lang Ping, upset the host 23-25, 25-22, 23-25, 25-20 and 15-11 despite the overwhelming unison of "Go, China" by more than 14,000 home fans.

Kimberly Glass contributed 20 points for the U.S., while China's Wang Yimei presented the game high 22 points.

China had played the U.S. seven times and kept a 5-2 win-loss record since Lang took the helm of the American team in 2005. But Lang led her team to beat China after five-set tussle in the last match at the final round of the World Grand Prix in July, ranking the fourth with a 2-3 win-loss record, while China finished a dismal fifth.

The two teams, both holding a 2-1 win-loss record after three preliminary matches, are in desperate need of a win to secure a quarterfinal berth. But the World's No. 3 U.S. was lucky tonight, especially at the crucial points.

China fielded their first line-up composed of the Athens Games players Feng Kun, Zhao Ruirui and Zhou Shuhong, while the U.S. sent the World Grand Prix squad, led by captain Robyn Ah Mow-Santos.

China started off confidently and kept a slight advantage 6-4 with some decent spikes of wing spiker Wang Yimei, while the U.S. were sluggish and making errors.

The Americans managed to catch up and overtake China at 8-7, thanks to hefty spikes of Heather Bown, before the play went to a 12-12 tie.

The U.S. broke the tie and improve to 18-14, but China launched a brilliant 6-2 run to a 20-20 draw. The two sides exchanged leads to level to 23-23. A kill block and a crafty drop of China's captain Feng Kun helped China take the set 25-23.

The two teams remained close in the opening section of the second set but China edged ahead 8-6, a lead they widened to 12-7 with the spikes of Xu Ming and Li Juan. Tayyiba Haneef-Park and Bown again helped the team march to 17-16 with effective block and lethal spikes. The U.S. maintained the advantage and never looked back, 25-22, in favor of the Americans.

China bounced back to win the third set 25-23. But in the fourth set, the Americans' powerful services posed a great pressure to their rivals' reception and the Chinese's hesitance cost them dearly at the big points. China went down the set 20-25.

The match was forced into the decider, when the U.S. took an early lead 6-1 as the Chinese kept committing errors. The hefty spikes from Kim Willoughby, Tayyiba Haneef-Park and Bown tamped the American's dominance to take the match point 14-10. China saved one match point by Wang Yimei's spike, but a kill block of Glass helped the U.S. take the set 15-10.

Twelve teams are competing in two groups in the preliminary round with top four finishers from each group reaching the quarterfinals. China will guarantee a quarterfinal berth if they can beat Japan, the last opponent in the group.

Brazil, Italy, Russia and Serbia, finishing top four after Friday's matches, all went to the final eight club with one match not yet played, while Algeria and Kazakhstan lost chances to go further after four losses in a row.


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1 China 25 9 5 39
2 USA 14 12 18 44
3 Germany 8 2 4 14
4 South Korea 6 8 3 17
5 Italy 6 4 3 13
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