Milano, Italy, October 9, 2014 - China came from two sets down to score a 3-2 (22-25, 23-25, 25-23, 25-23, 15-12) victory over the Dominican Republic on Thursday that keeps them alive in the race for a berth in the semifinals of the FIVB Volleyball Women's World Championships Italy 2014. To claim their place in the top four, the Asian side will be looking for Brazil to defeat the Dominican Republic on Friday.
• China are unbeaten in their world championship meetings with the Dominican Republic. China beat the Dominicans twice in straight sets (2006 and 2010) and twice in five sets (2014) , including today.
• Of all six teams in the third round, Dominican Republic have played the most sets in the first and second round combined 41 sets in total. Five more were added today to a total of 46.
• No other team of the top six has played more than 33 sets. Today's was the Dominican Republic's seventh tiebreak in ten matches at these World Championships.
• Dominican are still to win their first match against Asian opposition at the World Championship after seven defeats.
Best scorer of the match was Bethania De la Cruz with 39 points, thus breaking past the 229 points with which Azerbaijan's Polina Rahimova completed her Italy 2014 presence. Ting Zhu contributed 25 kills for China. The Dominican Republic had 16 block points while China had 10.
China jumped out for a quick 4-1 lead. A couple of cross court attacks from the rocket arm of De La Cruz and a kill block from Mambru Casilla made the South American steam ahead reaching the first TTO 8-7. It was a fierce battle with both team aiming for a semifinal ticket. Captain Hui Ruoqi’s attack gave a bit of fresh air to her teammates, before the Queens of the Caribbean rallied back to turn the tables at 20-18. China Coach Lang Ping called her ladies off court but to no use as the Dominican Republic closed the first set out 25-22.
Marcos Kwiek’s squad kept momentum in the second set. Even though China’s top scorer Ting Zhu did her best to resist, they could not cope with the power the Caribbean squad displayed. Five block kills and an outstanding De la Cruz (8 points) moved the scoreboard forward for the Dominican Republic. China closed the gap to two points at 19-21 but it was already too late. The Dominicans kept calm to cruise to a 25-23 set win – offering themselves a comfortable 2-0 set lead.
The turning point of the match came at the end of the third set. The Dominican Republic dominated the set until the deciding points but could not pull through. China’s outstanding defense became the key factor for the incredible comeback. The fans in Milano’s Mediolanum Forum saw a point-by-point race with China keeping the upper hand 25-23.
There was still not much to separate the two teams in the fourth set. China gained advantage and reached the first TTO 8-6 - for the first time in the match. Captain De La Cruz pushed the Dominicans ahead 11-10 but the Chinese were not ready to surrender, staying glued to their opponents 14-13. However, as in the third set, China used their excellent defense to stay alive in their race for the semifinals. Another 25-23 set win moved the match in the fifth and deciding set.
The Dominican Republic regained momentum in the early stages of the fifth set (5-4) before Ting Zhu fired back to make it 8-6 for China. De La Cruz answered with a series of blistering winner to draw level at 9-9. It remained a rollercoaster battle until the end with China cruising to a hard-earned 15-12 set and 3-2 match win.