China (CHN) vs. USA (USA) women - Pool 2 - Preliminary Phase #15567727

The outside hitter came up big in critical moments for China

China took another important step to qualify for the Paris Olympics on Thursday, when the Asians came from behind to defeat Olympic champions the United States in the Volleyball Nations League 2024 and add important points to their FIVB World Rankings total. Hosts Brazil also triumphed in the third day of matches at the Maracanãzinho stadium, sweeping Korea.

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The Chinese, who had triumphed against continental rivals Korea on Tuesday, recovered from a first-set loss to walk away with a 3-1 (23-25, 25-23, 25-22, 25-19) victory over the United States to remain undefeated in the VNL.

The four-set victory added 9.13 points to China’s total in the FIVB World Rankings, making them move two spots up, from seventh to fifth, and getting them closer to securing an Olympic spot. The Americans dropped the same amount and went from third to second, being passed by Brazil.

Outside hitter Li Yingying played a major role in the Chinese comeback, leading all scorers with 20 points, all in kills. Middle blocker Wang Yuanyuan and opposite Gong Xiangyu also had productive nights, with 18 and 16 points, respectively.

“I thought we played a very good match today,” China’s captain Yuan Xinyue commented. “The Americans play with passion and are very competitive, but we showed great unity and enjoyed ourselves on the court. I hope we can do even better in the next match. Every point is important for us here and we’ll try to do our best in each match.”

The Americans, who had six different starters when compared to their debut against Thailand, had opposite Danielle Cuttino as their top scorer, with 19 points (16 kills, two blocks, one ace). Tokyo Olympics MVP and star outside hitter Jordan Larson contributed another 18, with 16 kills, one block and one ace.

Brazil get their second win

After debuting with a four-set victory against Canada on Tuesday, Brazil had Korea in their schedule on Thursday and had no trouble producing a 3-0 (25-15, 25-19, 25-17) victory in front of their home fans.

The team’s top scorer in their opening match, outside hitter Ana Cristina Souza led the South Americans again with 18 points (16 kills, two blocks), followed by team captain Gabriela ‘Gabi’ Guimarães, who registered 12, with 11 kills and one ace.

Head coach José ‘Zé Roberto’ Guimarães took advantage of Brazil’s dominant performance to rotate the squad, using 13 of the 14 players he had available, including 20-year-old middle blocker Luzia Nezzo and 19-year-old outside hitter Helena Wenk, who made their national team debuts against the Koreans.

“It’s always good when we can use every player and give the younger ones, such as Luzia and Helena, the opportunity to experience it,” middle blocker Ana Carolina ‘Carol’ da Silva reflected. “They are both very talented and getting to play in this atmosphere is important for them. We expect a more challenging match against the United States, but we have confidence in our team and will prepare to get another good result.”

Brazil (BRA) vs. Korea (KOR) women - Pool 2 - Preliminary Phase #15560194

Luzia made her international debut with Brazil

On the Korean side, outside hitter So-Hwi Kang was again the top scorer, with nine points (eight kills, one block), one more than middle blocker Ho-Young Jung, who registered five kills, two blocks and one ace.

The result of the match made little impact on the FIVB World Rankings, giving second-placed Brazil 0.61 points and taking the same amount from 41st-placed Korea.

Volleyball Nations League 2024: schedule and results

The daily schedule in Rio de Janeiro will be completed with the duel between NORCECA rivals Canada and the Dominican Republic, who will battle at 21:00 local time (00:00 GMT, Friday).

China and Brazil will both be back on the court on Friday. The Asians will face Canada at 17:30 local time (20:30 GMT), while the South Americans are set to play against the United States at 21:00 local time (00:00 GMT, Saturday). Earlier, Serbia will meet Thailand at 14:00 local time (17:00 GMT).

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