China begin World Cup title defence with win over Korea


China celebrate in their match against Korea in the 2019 FIVB Volleyball Women's World Cup

Yokohama and Hamamatsu, Japan, September 14, 2019 – China began defence of their title in the FIVB Volleyball Women’s World Cup with a 3-0 (25-21, 25-15, 25-14) win over Korea in the all-Asian derby at Yokohama Arena on Saturday.

China, which eventually won the Rio 2016 Olympic Games gold medal after their top podium finish at the 2015 World Cup, displayed great teamwork in their first match in the 2019 edition.

China captain Zhu Ting paced her squad to dominate with a match-high 22 points, including 18 kills, three blocks and an ace. Her teammates Yuan Xinyue and Gong Xiangyu added 11 and 10 points, respectively.

"Our team showed great teamwork today so we could have a good match. We have a tradition as a strong team,” said Zhu.

The Chinese side led on all fronts while limiting the opposing side to only two double-digit scorers. Lee Jaeyeong had 14 markers, while Korean superstar Kim Yeon-Koung only made 10 points in the match.

Meanwhile, Russia and Japan also prevailed in Yokohama, as the European side overwhelmed debutantes Cameroon 3-0 (25-14, 25-15, 25-10) in the opener, while the hosts closed the day with a strong comeback in the fourth set to win 3-1 (25-21, 25-11, 24-26, 25-14) against the Dominican Republic.

The Opening Ceremony right before the Japan v Dominican Republic match at the Yokohama Arena honoured the 12 participating teams in the women's competition and the 12 others in the men's competition. The occasion was graced by Her Imperial Highness Princess Mako of Akishino.

Japan Volleyball Association President Kenji Shimaoka addressed the sold-out crowd, underlining the importance of the World Cup bringing together the world's toughest teams as a prelude to the Olympics.

"Of the 12 women's teams in the World Cup, six have already qualified for the Tokyo Olympics, which will make the level of play especially competitive," Shimaoka said.

FIVB Secretary General Luis Fernando Lima likewise sent his message of gratitude to the JVA, Fuji Television, the sponsors, the athletes, the coaches, and most of all, the fans of the sport.

"A very warm thank you goes to you, the fans for your engagement and for being, more and more, a part of the game," said Lima.

The matchup between Brazil and Serbia highlighted the opening day at Hamamatsu, as the South American side prevailed in a thrilling five-setter.

After trading victories in the first four sets, the two squads kept their showdown going with more gripping plays led by Brazil’s Lorenne Geraldo Teixeira and Gabi Guimaraes and Serbia’s Ana Bjelica and Bianka Busa.

The Bjelica-Busa tandem outscored the Brazilian duo, but it was Lorenne’s last minute heroics that helped her side reach match point. Serbia committed an attack error that conceded the match to the Brazilians 3-2 (25-20, 23-25, 25-18, 22-25, 15-12).

In other matches, the United States made a fiery start to their campaign after they recorded a 3-0 (25-14, 25-20, 25-14) victory over Kenya. After scoring the first nine points, they edged Kenya with a 17-6 advantage in kills to secure the opening set.

Their rivals managed to perform better and racked up 20 points in the second set, but the USA squad still managed to gain the five-point edge. USA got their rhythm back and secured the match win with a comfortable lead.

The Netherlands also recorded a straight-set win (25-16, 25-17, 25-19) against Argentina, as Anne Buijs led the European side with 17 points. The Dutch team made an impressive performance on offence and defence that never gave space for their opponents to stage a significant run.