Nanjing, China, July 5, 2019 – China showed great team effort to outshine Italy in four sets (25-17, 25-22, 22-25, 25-22) on Friday to complete the final four cast of the 2019 FIVB Volleyball Nations League.
The host team recovered from their opening day loss to Turkey in the final round by beating the Italians to stay in contention for another VNL podium finish this year.
Liu Xiaotong and Liu Yanhan scored 18 points apiece, then Gong Xiangyu and Zheng Yixin added 11 points each to overwhelm their rivals. Paola Egonu topped all scorers with 38 points then Elena Pietrini contributed 14 points in the loss.
With the hosts progressing to the semifinals, the 2019 VNL Finals have the same cast as last year – United States, Turkey, Brazil and China.China-Italy Match CentrePre-match stats:
China - Italy (July 5, 2019)
• China have a W22-L20 record against Italy in major world level competitions.
• China defeated Italy 3-2 in the 2019 Volleyball Nations League preliminary round on 6 June, after trailing by two sets. This ended a five-match losing run for China against Italy at world level.
• Paola Ogechi Egonu delivered 40 points for Italy in that 3-2 defeat in the 2019 VNL, one shy of the VNL record set by Poland's Malwina Smarzek who won 41 against Bulgaria on 28 May 2019.• Egonu (27) also scored the most points in the only other VNL encounter between China and Italy, a 3-1 Italian win in the 2018 preliminary round.
• China could defeat Italy in back-to-back world level matches for the first time since a 3-0 at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games and a 3-1 at the 2017 World Grand Prix.
• The winner of this match will join Turkey, Brazil and United States in the 2019 VNL semi-finals.China
• China lost 3-1 against Turkey in their first final round match in the 2019 Volleyball Nations League.
• China finished in third place in the inaugural edition of the VNL in 2018. They beat Brazil in straight sets in the third-place decider (25-18, 25-22, 25-22).
• China could lose successive VNL matches for the first time since losing their opening two in the 2019 preliminary round.
• Only United States (18) have won more VNL matches in straight sets than China (16).
• Ting Zhu (119), Xinyue Yuan (119) and Xiangyu Gong (117) are leading China in terms of scoring in the 2019 VNL.• Yanhan Liu (21) scored the most points for China in the 3-1 defeat against Turkey.Italy
• Italy could reach the Volleyball Nations League semi-finals for the first time. Last year, they finished the preliminary round in sixth place but missed out on a spot in the final round as ninth-placed China took their ticket as hosts of the final phase.
• On their debut in the VNL final round, Italy lost in straight sets to Turkey on 4 July. Paola Ogechi Egonu (12) was the only Italy player to reach 10 points that match.
• Italy can suffer three successive defeats for the second time in the VNL after a run of four defeats in their opening four fixtures in last year's edition.• Elena Pietrini (208) and Indre Sorokaite (203) are Italy's leading points scorers in the 2019 VNL. Last year, Paola Ogechi Egonu (180) won most points for Italy in the VNL.
• Only Turkey's Zehra Gunes (25) has more aces in the 2019 VNL than Sorokaite (24).