Zhang Changning (top) of China spikes the ball during the Round Robin match between China and Brazil at the 2019 FIVB Women's World Cup in Sapporo, Japan, Sept. 22, 2019. (Xinhua/He Canling)
SAPPORO, Japan, Sept. 22 (Xinhua) -- China and United States both survived a five-set thriller against their respective opponents here on Sunday at the FIVB Volleyball Women's World Cup to continue their lead on the table with a 6-0 record. Russia fended off Serbia 3-1 to sit third, four points behind the leaders.
Despite losing their first two sets at the tournament, China managed to withstand the challenge from a Brazilian side without captain Fabiana Claudino 25-23, 23-25, 22-25, 25-19, 15-8. Zhu Ting and Yuan Xinyue tied for a game-high 26 points for the defending champions. Gabriela Braga Guimaraes led Brazil's attackers with 20 points.
"I think unity and concentration are the reasons we were able to win," captain Zhu told Xinhua after the match."
Blocking was also an important factor behind China's sixth consecutive win, as the defending champions outperformed their opponent 17-7 with Yuan contributed seven kill blocks alone.
China will next face the United States, the only other team yet to lose a match, who also needed five sets to edge host nation Japan 26-24, 22-25, 25-21, 23-25, 15-8 late on Sunday night.
Michelle Bartsch-Hackley scored 30 points for the Nations League champions, which rotated its starting line-up and benched captain Jordan Larson and opposite hitter Karsta Lowe. Mayu Ishikawa and Yuki Ishii had 23 and 21 points each.
"Congratulations on Japan, they played very good volleyball and that's no surprise," USA coach Karch Kiraly said of the tenacious Japanese side that tied the match twice. "We always expect it will be very difficult to play against Japan because they play with such great defense and a great heart."
Speaking of Monday's clash, the 58-year-old believes both sides will try hard to recover from the gruelling five-set matches and both will be excited for the match between two teams with a strong start at the tournament.
Nataliya Goncharova fired Russia past Serbia 25-16, 20-25, 25-23, 25-16 with a game-high 21 points. Irina Koroleva contributed four points to Russia's solid blocking, which limited World Cup leading scorer Ana Bjelica to 13 points out of 44 attacks with a success rate lower than 30%. Bianka Busa had a team-high 19 points.
Earlier on Sunday, with four players scoring double-digit, South Korea defeated Argentina 25-19, 21-25, 25-19, 25-9. Lee Jae-yeong was on fire with 23 points while Kim Hee-jin added 22 for the world no.8. Lucia Fresco had 22 for the South American side.
"I'm happy with our performance because we tried to show a little more than just playing to our outside hitter. Sometimes that may be our best quality, but it also becomes a limitation because then we don't put more attackers in our play. Today was good because we tried to play with all our attackers and this is what we want to do," said South Korea coach Stefano Lavarini, who has repeated emphasized his intention to try out different line-ups to prepare for the Olympic regional qualifiers.
Elsewhere, the Netherlands breezed past Cameroon 25-15, 25-14, 25-18 to sit fourth on the table. The Dominican Republic triumphed over Kenya 25-17, 25-19, 25-19.