China face uphill battle against Russia


China - Russia (25 July)
· These teams will meet for the 29th time in the World Grand Prix. China have won 10 and Russia have won 18 of the previous 28 meetings.
· China won the earlier meeting this year in Ningbo (3-1), after Russia had won four in a row.
· They have met 12 times in the Final Round, with China winning three times and Russia nine times, including the last three.
· The last time China defeated Russia in the Final Round was in 2007 (3-0).
· China and Russia also met in the final of the Athens 2004 Olympic Games. China won the gold medal after beating Russia 3-2.

· China suffered their second defeat in this Final Round on Friday, falling 3-2 to Italy. This followed a 3-1 defeat to Brazil and a straight-sets victory over Japan.
· China can still mathematically win this World Grand Prix, but they need to beat Russia and hope that United States lose to Brazil on Saturday to remain eligible going into the final match round.
· China have won this competition once, in 2003.
· China completed a perfect Preliminary Round with a 9-0 record. They have lost two of three in this Final Round. They can lose two in a row for the first time since 2014.
· Against Italy, Liu Yanhan led the team with 18 points, 17 of them coming from spikes.

· Russia suffered their first defeat of this Final Round, and dropped their first set when they succumbed 3-1 against hosts United States on Friday.
· This pegged the Russians back in their search for their fourth World Grand Prix crown, having previously won the trophy in 1997, 1999 and 2002.
· Nataliya Goncharova continued her fantastic form in this Final Round, posting 29 points against the US in a 3-1 losing cause. Goncharova has contributed 81 points (28-24-29) in this Final Round.
· Russia are still very much in contention for their 13th medal in the competition. Only Brazil have more (16).


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