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Men's volleyball Roundup: Host China makes historic quarterfinals in Olympics
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09:35, August 19, 2008

Chinese spikers made history by making top eight at the men's volleyball tournament of the Beijing Games despite a 25-17, 25-23, 21-25, 20-25 and 16-14 loss to Italy on Monday.

The host advanced into the quarter-finals of the 12-team tournament after finishing fourth in preliminary pool A with two wins against three losses. Their sole Olympic show dated back to 1984, when China appeared at the Los Angeles Games as the replacement team and finished the last in the eight competitors.

"It's a breakthrough for the Chinese men's volleyball, it really meant a lot for us," said Fang Yingchao, who scored 20 points to lead China.

"This time is quite different because we fought through the preliminaries for the quarter-finals," Fang said. "It will be a great confidence boost to us and hopefully we can have even better performance in the future."

China head coach Zhou Jian'an attributed the improvement of his side to the participation in the World League in the last few years.

"We have gained experience and confidence from playing against top teams in the world," said Zhou, who took the helm of the Chinese team in December 2005.

The host will play defending champion and world No. 1 Brazil, top finisher from pool B, in Wednesday's quarterfinals. "I think we will play with more confidence against Brazil after the battle with Italy," Zhou.

After the match, the Italians also marched to the quarterfinals as second finisher of Pool A with 4-1 win-loss record.

As some histories were refreshed, some were also repeated.

Serbia, the fourth finisher of Pool B, will replay the World League final in July against the United States, leading Pool B with five wins in row, in the quarterfinals. The Europeans finally took the last train to the next round after beating Egypt 3-0.

Despite the vivid 1-3 loss to the Americans less than a month ago, the Serbians, who lost three of their five preliminary matches, showed no fears to the inevitable head-to-head.

"We are not worried. We've got two wins now and we've been playing much better. We proved that we can beat them in the World League. We beat them 3-0, although we lost to them later in the tournament," said Serbian player Marko Podrascanin.

Besides China and Serbia, top three finishers of the two groups, namely the U.S., Italy and Bulgaria from Pool A and Brazil, Russia and Poland from Pool B also headed to the next round.

However, Venezuela, Japan, Germany and Egypt, standing at the last two of each groups, were blocked off the final eight competition.

In another four matches of the day, the U.S. breezed past Japan 25-18, 25-12 and 25-21 to finish top of Pool A, and Bulgaria overpowered confident Venezuela 3-1 to the third of group.

Meanwhile, defending champion Brazil beat Germany 3-0 to top Pool B. Mighty Russia was given scar by high-spirit Poland in five sets, but they still managed to take the second place of the group and the Poles trailed behind to stand at third.

The pairs for another two quarterfinals, involving Italy, Russia, Bulgaria and Poland, will be decided by lot later on Tuesday.

Source:Xinhua

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1 China 39 14 14 67
2 USA 22 24 26 72
4 Great Britain 12 7 8 27
3 Australia 11 10 12 33
5 Germany 9 7 7 23
6 Russian Fed. 8 13 15 36
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