ARNHEM, Netherlands, Oct. 1 (Xinhua) -- Team China suffered their first defeat at the Women's Volleyball World Championship here on Saturday, losing to world No. 2 Brazil 3-1 in their last pool D match of phase one.
The South American team came from one set down to defeat the 2018 bronze medalists 23-25, 25-17, 25-22, 25-22 for their fourth victory in five games at the tournament.
But China remains at the top of the pool on a 4-1 win-loss record, 12 points and 13-3 in sets. Brazil is second separated from China only on set ratio at 13-5. Both teams will head to Rotterdam for the next stage, where they will fight for places in the quarterfinals.
Japan and Argentina, who will meet on Sunday, have also secured their spots in the next phase with Japan bearing the chance to take second place from Brazil if they claim a straight-set win in the closing match.
"Despite the defeat today, the team has shown their desire for victory during the five games of the first phase. We had highlights in every game, but of course there were many aspects in which we could improve," concluded China's head coach Cai Bin.
Starting libero Wang Mengjie was absent due to a physical problem, but China went into the match with a strong 3-0 start in the opening set, before captain Yuan Xinyue led the team to hold off Brazil's comeback attempts with seven points including two blocks.
"We played well in the first set with high efficiency in first-round attack, but the Brazilian players capitalized on their good smashing jump service to break our defense, and we didn't handle it well," Cai said.
Outside hitter Tainara Santos, who shared the top scorer of the match with 22 points, served for a four-point run early in the second set. Veteran middle blocker Caroline Gattaz and star outside hitter Gabriela Guimaraes helped Brazil extend the lead with their powerful spikes to level the set score with 25-17.
The duo both hit double-digits with Guimaraes hitting 17 points and Gattaz having 15 including a winning point in the fourth set.
The third set was a hard-fought one as both sides reached a 19-19 draw, but China suddenly lost its sharpness in attack with Brazil winning three points in a row to clinch the upper hand, before Li Yingying's service error handed the set to Brazilians at 25-22.
"We had a lot of preparation for this match, raising the speed from the first set during which we did well. But they adjusted very quickly in the next three sets," said Li, who had 22 points.
"We could do better in our service reception, and we committed too many unforced errors in setting," the 22-year-old outside hitter added.
Yuan was the only other Chinese player hitting double-digits, finishing with 14 points including 10 for attacks, two for blocks, and two aces. ■