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China wins first title under Lang Ping's rein

Xinhua/chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2013-05-20 15:38

NINGBO, China - China beat Cuba in four sets Sunday night at the Beilun International Volleyball Tournament to win their first title under coach Lang Ping's charge.

The Chinese team, which was regrouped only a week ago, remained unbeaten at the four-team competition after downing Cuba 25-19, 21-25, 25-16, 25-18. They notched straight-set victories over Puerto Rico and Thailand earlier this week.

China wins first title under Lang Ping's rein

Chinese players jump to block Cuban players' offense during their Beilun International Volleyball Tournament in Ningbo city, Zhejiang province, May 19, 2013. [Photo/icpress.cn]

China's middle blocker Zeng Chunlei once again scored the most for the hosts with 14 points, as Cuban Rosanna Ramos Giel offered a team high 15 points.

Thailand upset Puerto Rico on Sunday in straight sets to finish the second place with two wins and one loss. The South Americans were in third place with a 1-2 win-loss record.

"Cuba is particularly good at attack and defence tonight. Our players appear weak when facing powerful attackers as the Cubans. The victory tonight is not our ultimate goal. But it is of great help to rebuild the girls' confidence," Lang told reporters.

After bagging the bronze medal in the 2008 Olympic Games, the Chinese team failed to reach the Olympic semifinals in 2012. Head coach Yu Juemin resigned right after the Olympics. Expectations run high for Lang to pull the Chinese team out of doldrums.

"The value of the tournament is help us to explore the talents among our team and to develop a style of our own, for instance, with different opponent, we need a different lineup. We see the problems through the tournament and we will work hard to improve ourselves in the future," said Lang.

The China-Cuba match started as a see-saw battle. Despite several errors in defence, Cuba managed to edge ahead 8-6 at the first technical timeout(TTO), with Giel unstoppable in attack. The Cubans was 16-13 up at the second TTO, but Hui Ruoqi then hit five spikes and had a solo block to inspire a 9-0 run for China. The Chinese kept their lead towards the end and took the set on a service error by Cuba's youngest player Teresa Vargas, who is only 14.

The second set was a even closer affair as the lead changed hands a number of times. When the teams were level at 20-all, Cuba won two points to go 22-20 ahead, forcing Lang Ping to ask for a timeout. It didn't work, though, as an attack error by Li Jing and then a Giel spike put Cuba on the verge of taking the set. China escaped one set point when Daymara Lescay served into the net, but Cuba converted on the second with a Giel spike.

China wins first title under Lang Ping's rein

Lang Ping, back, head coach of Chinese national women's volleyball team, gives guidance to players during their Beilun International Volleyball Tournament against Cuba in Ningbo city, Zhejiang province, May 19, 2013. [Photo/icpress.cn]

Lang made two substitutions at the beginning of the third set, and China tightened their defence in the back and at the net. The Cubans had their moments in attack, mainly through Yilian Cleger, but it wasn't enough. China was 8-6 up at the first TTO before enlarging the lead to 16-10 at the second TTO and eventually closing out the set 25-16.

China maintained their momentum in the fourth set, while Cuba struggled with their reception and floor defence. Qiao Ting scored the last point on an attack hit from the middle that wrapped-up the match at 25-17.

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