Poland (POL) vs. China (CHN) women - Semifinals #5848010

China's captain Yuan played a major role in the team's semifinal win over Poland

Asian powerhouse China are set to make their first trip to the Volleyball Nations League gold medal match on Sunday, when they will decide the title of the fifth edition of the tournament in Arlington, the United States.

After falling in the semifinals in 2018 and 2019, the Chinese finally overcame that stage of the tournament on Saturday, when they had a dominant performance against Poland at the College Park Center, securing an emphatic 3-0 (25-18, 25-23, 25-23) victory in the first semifinal of the tournament.

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The composition of the medal matches in Arlington will be determined after the conclusion of the second semifinal, between the United States and Türkiye, which is set to begin on Saturday at 19:30 local time (00:30 UTC, Sunday). The winners will play China for gold on Sunday at 17:30 local time (22:30 UTC), while the losers will meet Poland for bronze at 14:00 local time (19:00 UTC).

China became just the third side to take Poland down in the VNL 2023 as the Europeans were the best team in the Preliminary Phase with ten wins in 12 matches and eliminated Germany in the quarterfinals – the Netherlands and the United States were the other teams to defeat the Poles.

The Asians, who were fifth in the Preliminary Phase and knocked Brazil out in the quarterfinals, have already secured their best-ever finish in the VNL, improving from the bronze medals they won in 2018 and 2019. They will now look to become the third different national team to lift the trophy on the women’s side.

The Chinese counted on several standout individual performances to sweep the Polish, but their main star was once again 23-year-old outside hitter Li Yingying. The left-handed attacker had a slow start, registering only two points in set one, but improved her production throughout the match to leave the court with 14 (13 kills, one block), including the game-winner.

Also playing major roles in the Asian offense were Yuan Xinyue and Wang Wang Yunlu, who both added 13 points. The team captain and middle blocker tallied ten kills, two blocks and one ace, while the 27-year-old outside hitter, who joined the national team last year, got 11 kills and two blocks.

“We’re very excited about today’s victory,” Yuan reacted. “I feel that this season in the VNL we’re playing as a team, everyone is supporting and covering each other. This has been a key element for us. We’re already looking forward to the final and will keep our focus and start preparing for it.”

Poland (POL) vs. China (CHN) women - Semifinals #5847969

Libero Wang was very solid on the backcourt for the Asians

Wearing the VNL’s Equal Jersey in the first two sets of the semifinal match, libero Wang Mengjie also played an excellent match, tallying a match-high ten digs, many of which in critical moments to the encounter.

Volleyball Nations League 2023: full schedule and results

Poland had the match’s top scorer in star opposite Magdalena Stysiak, who produced 15 points, all in kills. Team captain and middle blocker Agnieszka Korneluk also stepped up to deliver a strong performance, with 13 points (nine kills, two blocks, two aces).

Poland (POL) vs. China (CHN) women - Semifinals #5847968

Middle blocker Magdalena Jurczyk and Stysiak try to stop Wang

China’s excellent match was reflected in the stats as the Asians ended the match with just eight errors, less than half of Poland’s 20. The winners had slim edges in kills (48 to 47) and blocks (six to five) and were overcome by the Europeans in aces (four to one).

For Poland, Sunday could bring an unprecedented medal in the VNL. The Europeans appeared in the Finals for the first time in 2023 and also made their first semifinal appearance in the tournament in Arlington.