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Luburic looms large as Serbs fine-tune for finals

 

Jiangmen, China, June 24, 2018 - Serbia warmed up for the FIVB Volleyball Nations League finals with a 3-1 (25-21, 25-22, 17-25, 25-15) victory over hosts China that saw opposite spiker Drazen Luburic's 28 points help his side sound out a warning as the tournament nears its climax.  

The Serbs rolled through round five with a clean sweep of matches that showcased the very best the team has to offer and Luburic led from the front in impressive style on Sunday, his points tally all coming from massive kills.

Overall, coach Nikola Grbić men's are on a 5-0 streak, and along with Luburic's form at the net, he will be delighted with the play on Sunday of wing spikers Milan Katic (13 points) and Nikola Mijailovic (12 points). Such was Serbia's confidence that regular stars such as leading scorers Uros Kovacevic and Aleksandar Atanasijevic were given a night to take in the atmosphere from the sidelines.

China staged a revival in the third set just when the Serbs looked to be running away with the match. Once again the star for the home team was the impressive opposite spiker Chuan Jiang, his 18 points for the night including 17 kills of his own. The 23-year-old from Beijing can proudly walk away from the pool stages of the inaugural VNL as the tournament's leading points scorer with 272 points.

China have the Asian Games now looming in Jakarta in August and coach Raul Lozano will be no doubt hoping the experience of playing against the world's best nations will have fine-tuned the likes of wing spiker Libin Liu (15 points on Sunday) and middle blocker Shuhan Rao (nine points).

The trip to the Jiangmen Sports Centre proved a perfect way for the Serbs to prepare for the VNL finals - set to take place in Lille, France, from July 4-8 - with Sunday's win following Saturday's 3-1 result over Japan and Friday's 3-0 win over Canada.

The win took Serbia's record in the VNL to 11-4 and marked the first time they had recorded 11 wins at world level tournament since the 2010 World League, where they finished third. China finished the tournament on 3-12.

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