Published: 11:04, October 9, 2022 | Updated: 11:04, October 9, 2022
Italy defeats China to reach quarterfinals at women's volleyball worlds
By Xinhua

Players of China celebrate scoring during the Phase 2 Pool E match between China and Italy at the 2022 Volleyball Women's World Championship in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, Oct 8, 2022. (PHOTO / XINHUA)

ROTTERDAM - Italy concluded their group stage campaign at the Women's Volleyball World Championship by beating China 26-24, 25-16, 25-20 here on Saturday, securing the top place in the pool and a spot in the quarterfinals.

The world No. 1 finished the group stage with an 8-1 win-loss record, collecting 25 points to top the pool. China stayed in fourth place and could also advance to the last eight if they beat Belgium in their last group match on Sunday.

We all wanted to give it our all in the match, but their (Italy's) powerful serves caused big problems for us ... They are a very experienced team playing consistently.

Cai Bin, Chinese head coach

Opposite Paola Egonu, the top scorer for the Italian team, swept 27 points to lead the Nations League champions to victory in a rematch of the semifinal of the 2018 World Championship when Italy advanced to the final after a five-set thriller.

"They (China) are a good team, it's a 50-50 clash. I remember the game when we played at Tokyo and they beat us. It's always a nice game against them," said the 23-year-old Egonu.

"We knew each other very well, so it's fun to play with them," Egonu added.

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Middle blocker Anna Danesi added 12 points for Italy, while outside hitter Wang Yunlu led the charge for China with 11.

Anna Danesi (right) of Italy competes during the Phase 2 Pool E match between China and Italy at the 2022 Volleyball Women's World Championship in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, Oct 8, 2022. (PHOTO / XINHUA)

"We all wanted to give it our all in the match, but their powerful serves caused big problems for us," said Chinese head coach Cai Bin. "They are a very experienced team playing consistently."

The second set turned to be one-sided as Italy surged to a 10-4 lead before expanding the gap to 18-9. Paola Egonu, who fired 10 points in the first set, continued her momentum to add another seven and Danesi bounced back from a two-point performance in the first to have six

The first set was a close one as China saved three set points from 24-21 behind to claw back to 24-24, but an unforced error handed the lead to Italy again before Egonu's spike sealed the set 26-24.

"We made some mistakes at the key point in the opening set, and then lost our rhythm in the second," said Chinese outside hitter Li Yingying, who registered eight points in the match.

The second set turned to be one-sided as Italy surged to a 10-4 lead before expanding the gap to 18-9. Egonu, who fired 10 points in the first set, continued her momentum to add another seven and Danesi bounced back from a two-point performance in the first to have six.

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"Egonu is a powerful player, it's always hard to stop her and we didn't find good solutions today. Hopefully we can do better next time," Li said.

The two-time champions found some form in the first half in the third set with Li regaining her sharpness in attacking. But the European outfit responded quickly, hitting a 7-2 run after 12-12 to establish a safe five-point lead and securing a 25-20 victory at their second match point.