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Evergrande of China celebrates after qualifyinbg for the World Women''s Club Championship
Evergrande reign supreme in Asian Women’s Club Championship and qualify for World Club Championship

05 May 2013
Dac Lac, Vietnam: Invincible Guangdong Evergrande underlined their supremacy over the 14th Asian Women’s Club Volleyball Championship as the Chinese powerhouses put it past the battling Zhetyssu of Kazakhstan in the final showdown. The dramatic 25-18 25-17 23-25 25-16 victory gave the legendary coach Lang Ping’s debutantes Evergrande a remarkable clean sweep in the one-week, eight-team competition which concluded on Sunday.

Following the victory, Evergrande, which finished second in this season’s Chinese Volleyball League, now secure a berth to represent Asia in the FIVB Women’s Club World Championship to be held in October in Zurich, Switzerland. Among the 14 editions contested so far in the Asian Women’s Club Championship, teams from China had advanced to the final round for 10th time, but emerged as the eventual champions for seven times.

Shanghai Cable TV represented China in the inaugural Asian Women’s Club Championship in Ubon Ratchathani, Thailand in 1999, but failed to make their mark to return with the third place. LG Caltex of South Korea captured the title.

Shanghai Cable TV made a strong comeback the following year to make history for China. They were crowned the eventual champions for the first time in 2000 on home soil in Shaoxing. The remaining six titles achieved by China comprised Shanghai Cable TV (2001), Tianjin Bridgestone (2005), Tianjin Bridgestone (2006), Tianjin Bridgestone (2008), Tianjin Bridgestone (2012) and Guangdong Evergrande (2013).

The final encounter of this year’s episode turned out to be a mighty clash of the two unbeaten teams, Zhetyssu and Evergrande. The Chinese side made a perfect run in this tournament as they did not lose a set to their respective rivals en route to the Sunday’s final.

Evergrande and Zhetyssu almost had the similar size, with the former having the height average of 183cm against latter’s 184cm. However,  the Chinese team apparently fielded more individual talents in their starting line-up which included two imported star spikers, Pole Katarzyna Ewa Skowronska Dolata and Italian Carolina Del Pilar.

The team were additionally strengthened by two Chinese national players in libero Zhang Xian and the 195cm Xu Yunli, and powerful attacker Zhou Yuan. Both sides entertained a big crowd at the Buon Ma Thuot Gym with their exceptional performances. Indomitable Evergrande played with a dazzling offensive game right from the whistle, mixing the excellent offensive mobility of spectacular attacks from Del Pilar and Skowronska with solid blocking by Xu Yunli and Wang Ting to take the first two sets 25-18, 25-17.

Olga Soboleva and Tatyana Pyurova were the two dominant forces for the Zhetyssu’s impressive comeback in the third set as they methodically punctured the Chinese defence with explosive spikes to help the Kazakhs win the thrilling hard-fought battle 25-23. Leading 2-1, Evergrande remained in incredible form in the fourth set.

They blunted the formidable rivals’ challenge with lightning fast spikes from Xu Yunli, while Zhetyssu gallantly counter-attacked with accurate, sharp attacks by Tatyana Pyurova. Despite the determined attempts, Zhetyssu still found the rivals too strong to eventually go down 16-25. Evergrande captured the comfortable set, the thrilling match and the championship by not losing a match in the top-notch tournament.

The Evergrande celebrated their victory with laughter and tears of happiness. They hugged one another and their head coach Lang Ping, some of them took photos. Commenting on her team’s success, Lang Ping said, “In the first set, we did not get used to the game against Zhetyssu. They played like European style. It was very tight and we were a bit tired, normally we played more relaxed.

“I think we came back in the third set, but with many errors, we could not win. In all, it’s quite OK for us in this tournament. We did a good job. After this, I will join the Chinese national team. I, maybe, coach that team for a four-team (China, Cuba, Thailand and Puerto Rico) invitation tournament in China,” said Lang Ping, former Chinese player and former head coach of the USA women’s national team who in 2002 became an inductee of the Volleyball Hall of Fame in Holyoke, Massachusetts.

In the third-place playoff earlier, Japan’s PFU Blue Cats had a daunting task against Bo Tong Gang to power past the in-form DPR Korea side in hard-fought three-set thriller 25-17, 25-22, 25-22. Kawakami Mao topscored with 22 points for PFU, while hard-attacking Jong Jin Sim, who later won the Best Scorer Award, scored a match-high 21 points.

In the 5th-8th classification round for lower-ranked teams, Lienviet Postbank of hosts Vietnam took the fifth place after the scintillating 25-17, 25-22, 25-19 win over Taipei. The Thailand League winners Idea Khonkaen returned with a consolation seventh place following  the hard-fought 25-22, 25-22, 26-24 win over Iran’s Giti Pasand in a tight contest.

Sunday’s results
7th-8th place: Idea Khonkaen (Thailand) b Giti Pasand (Iran) 3-0 (25-22, 25-22, 26-24)
5th-6th place: Lienviet Postbank (Vietnam) b Taipei (Chinese Taipei) 3-0 (25-17, 25-22, 25-19)
Bronze-medal match: PFU Blue Cats (Japan) b Bo Tong Gang (DPR Korea) 3-0 (25-17, 25-22, 25-22)
Championship match: Guangdong Evergrande (China) b Zhetyssu (Kazakhstan) 3-1 (25-18, 25-17, 23-25, 25-16)

Individual Awards
Best Server: Zhou Yuan (Guangdong Evergrande)
Best Attacker: Zhou Yuan (Guangdong Evergrande)
Best Scorer: Jong Jin Sim (Bo Tong Gang)
Best Blocker: Xu Yunli (Guangdong Evergrande)
Best Setter: Korina Ishimtseva (Zhetyssu)
Best Libero: Zhang Xian (Guangdong Evergrande)
MVP: Xu Yunli (Guangdong Evergrande)

Final Standing
1. Guangdong Evergrande (China)
2. Zhetyssu (Kazakhstan)
3. PFU Blue Cats (Japan)
4. Bo Tong Gang (DPR Korea)
5. Lienviet Postbank (Vietnam)
6. Taipei (Chinese Taipei)
7. Idea Khonkaen (Thailand)
8. Giti Pasand (Iran)

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