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China blank Russia to hamper their gold chances

 
Omaha, USA, July 25, 2015 – China evened their record by defeating Russia 27-25, 25-20, 25-19 Saturday afternoon on the fourth day of the FIVB World Grand Prix Finals in Omaha, Nebraska, USA.

Yanhan Li sparked China with 24 points and Changning Zhang added 13 points in the victory. Russia’s Nataliya Goncharova, the tournament’s leading scorer, placed 20 points on the board and Yana Shcherban added nine points. China net defense produced a 10-9 block advantage to help offset Russia’s 5-3 ace margin.

China, now 2-2, will play USA on the final day of the Finals. Russia (2-2), now with their gold-medal hopes seriously dashed, will challenge Japan on Sunday to conclude the tournament.

China took an 8-3 lead in the opening set as Yanhan Liu notched three early kills. Russia closed to 10-8 following an ace by Ekaterina Kosianenko, then knotted the score at 12-all. Zhang Changning connected for consecutive kills to put China back in front by two at 14-12. After Russia tied the set at 16-all, China scored three straight capped by a Zhang Xiaoya ace at 19-16. Goncharova served an ace and Yana Shcherban hit a cross-court winner to tie the set at 23-all. China finished the set at 27-25 on a Zhang Xiaola ace after a Liu Xiaotong kill.

China used a 6-0 run to build a 13-8 advantage in the second set. Goncharova hit a kill off the block and Kosianenko put up a block to tie the score 15-all on a 7-2 Russia spurt. Xia Ding served an ace and Changning Zhang hit a winner to give China set points at 24-19 as part of a 4-0 run en route to winning 25-20.

China reached the third set technical timeout up 8-5, then increased the margin to 10-5 following a block by Yan Ni. China advanced their lead to 16-9 at the second technical timeout. Russia blocked China three times in a row at 22-15, but the deficit was too much as China won 25-19.

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