Defending champions China suffer 3rd straight defeat in Olympic women's volleyball
Defending champions China are on the edge of elimination after suffering their third straight defeat here on Thursday in the women's volleyball competition of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.
Having lost to Turkey and the United States in their first two preliminary matches in pool B, China were outgunned by Russia 25-17, 23-25, 20-25, 27-25 and 15-12 at the Ariake Arena.
"We have expected the preliminaries would be very difficult, but have not thought about losing three matches in a row," said China head coach Jenny Lang Ping, who has led China to triumph at the Rio Olympic Games in 2016 and back-to-back World Cup titles in 2015 and 2019.
"My players tried their best, but we were really affected by Zhu Ting's wrist injury."
Wearing a protective band on her right wrist, Zhu, the Most Valuable Player of the 2019 World Cup, had 15 kills on 44 tries to score 17 points for China, while Arina Fedorovtseva, Nataliya Goncharova and Irina Voronkova had 28, 27 and 26 points respectively for the Russian women, who outblocked China 14-10.
China built a 20-14 lead in the fourth set, but Russia ran off seven points in a row on back of high quality serves from Kseniia Smirnova to go up at 21-20. China managed to overtake the lead at 25-24 thanks to a spike of Li Yingying, only to find Russia wrap up the set with a 3-0 run and force the tie-breaker.
Trailing 10-6 in the deciding fifth set, China steadily pulled to 14-12, but Voronkova clinched the match winner for Russia.
Li led China with 27 points and Yuan Xinyue and Zhang Changning added 11 and 10 respectively.
The Chinese women will play Italy, who have won three matches in a row, on Saturday and Argentina on Monday in their last two pool matches.
With only the top four finishers from pool B to qualify for the quarterfinals, China will need to win both matches to keep their title hopes alive.