SAPPORO, Japan, Oct. 4 (Xinhua) -- China suffered their first loss at the FIVB Volleyball Women's World Championship after being defeated by Italy 3-1 here on Thursday.
The scores of the four sets were 25-20, 24-26, 16-25, 20-25, respectively.
Italy's star blocker Paola Egonu scored 29 points to lead the game, while Miryam Sylla and Lucia Bosetti also scored in double figures. China were led by Zhu Ting with 20 points.
"I think we did well in general, especially in the first two sets. We had a few chances in the second set, but we failed to capitalize them," said China coach Lang Ping after the game.
"In the last two sets, the Italians were on fire, and their serves destroyed our attacks," said Lang, adding that the Chinese team needs more attackers than just Zhu Ting.
The match was intense from the very beginning. Italy built on an early lead and entered the first technical timeout 8-7, but a string of four straight points helped China turn the tide 11-8. China took the lead for the rest of the set, and sealed the victory 25-20 with a superb spike by Zhu Ting.
The second set was even intenser. Italy took an 8-5 lead at the first technical timeout, but three smashes by Zhu brought China level 10-10. The two sides took turns to lead and after a 24-24 tie, Sylla's spike and Chirichella's block sealed the victory for Italy.
In the following two sets, Italy were apparently on fire. In face with Italy's efficient blocks and strong attacks, China failed to respond well and lost 16-25 and 20-25.
With four wins and one loss, China entered the second round of the tournament as runner-up of Pool B and will play Thailand, Azerbaijan, the United States and Russia.