Montreux, Switzerland, May 26, 2015 - A very young and smart China beat the more experienced Dominican Republic in four sets (25-20, 20-25, 25-20, 25-20), during the opening game of the thirtieth edition of the Montreux Volley Masters, at the usual Pierrier Sports Hall. China, represented by the under-23 team, currently holding the title of world champions in that category, showed a clean, sharp, and diversified volleyball that caught the queens of the Caribbean off guard, despite their evident physical advantage.
Since the first set the young enthusiasm had a key role in the Chinese performance, allowing the team to take the lead right away (5-3).
But being the youngest team of the tournament is a double edge weapon, and the Dominican Republic did not let its guard down, and took advantage of the many mistakes the young players from the Middle Kingdom made during the first part of the first set, and taking a break for technical time out on a leading position (8-7).
But the second technical time out saw the come back of China, thanks to the efforts of outside hitter and captain Yanhan Liu (Liu Y.H.) who scored 3 consecutive points that pushed China ahead (16-13).
After a strategic play that allowed China's captain Liu Y.H. to put the ball down from the back row with no block stopping her, the Dominican Republic Head coach Marcos Kwiek was forced to call a timeout, but his girls could not refocus in time, and 2 critical errors served the set-ball to the Chinese, who ended the first set with an ace from Fang Duan that painted disappointment on the Dominicans’ faces.
The second set started with the Chinese hitting line scoring kill after kill all along the net, pushing the Dominican coach to call a time out on the score of 3-0.
The first technical time out ( 8-7 China) saw a Dominican Republic in difficulty, with brilliant plays followed by beginners mistakes.
Three consecutive kills from middle-blocker Marianne Fersola Roberto (Fersola) brought back the energy of the Dominican Republic, which caught up to the 15-15, and pushed the Chinese coach Xu Jiande to change his line up and put on the court middle-blocker Yu Zhang.
Dominican's strategy to hit to break fingers seemed not to work against the young Chinese, who mixed few powerful hits with more effective smart shots, but a solo block and a tip ending in a point from outside hitter Yonkaira Paola Peña Isabel (Peña) brought back the enthusiasm on the Dominican side of the court, and pushed the Caribbean ahead to a score of 21-17.
A strategic change in the Dominican line up, in an important moment of the set resulted very effective with new entry Ana Yorkira Binet Stephens (Binet) acing her first serve, and ending behind the serving line 2 more times, which gave her team both the set ball (24-19), and the set-point (25-20).
The third set saw the Dominican Republic finally finding its rhythm and lucidity, but the Chinese kept their focus and, helped by the precision of the setter Xintong Chen (Chen X.T.), made it difficult for the Dominicans to take a lead of 2 points of more.
The second technical time out, in fact, saw the Chinese leading 16-14, in a head to head battle.
Consistent serving from 8, and a critical kill from captain Liu Y.H. gave China the set ball of third set, which they won thank to a mistake of their opponents.
The fourth and final set developed very similarly to the third, and despite some powerful flashes of the Dominican Republic's performance, saw the young Chinese taking the lead, and the willingness to take home this first game of the Montreux Volley Masters.
The great connection between setter Chen X.T. and captain Liu Y.H. made this last one the key player of this game, being incredibly effective at the net. Noticeable the difference in size between the two teams, with the queens of the Caribbean showing much more athleticism compared to the Chinese. As a consequence, the Dominican Republic played a much more powerful volleyball, with strong attacks at the net and very forceful serves behind the 9 meters line, nevertheless, the young team from the Middle Kingdom outsmarted the more experienced opponents, with a smarter, faster and more diversified game.