BEIJING - Defending champions China outclassed Russia in a repeat of the Athens 2004 final as they pulled off a convincing 3-0 victory against the same opponents in the quarterfinals of the Olympic women's volleyball tournament on Tuesday.
China's players celebrate after defeateing Russia in their women's volleyball quarterfinal match at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games on August 19, in Beijing. Defending China beat Russia 3-0 (25-22, 27-25, 25-19) to meet Brazil in the semifinals.
China, who rallied past Russia in a 3-2 epic final in Athens four years ago, will meet Brazil in the semifinals on Thursday.
Ekaterina Gamova scored an excellent winner and a fine lob to lead a 4-0 run for Russia in the opening set and the Chinese girls, to a thunderous crowd, cut the cushion to just two points at the first technical timeout at 8-6.
Zhou Suhong started to find her range on the resumption, scoring three winners to help China go up 13-12.
The game became tight as both teams, needing a win to stay on course after having compiled a disappointing 3-2 record in the preliminaries, were unable to have total control of the match.
But it was the Chinese team that started to gain momentum when the game was raised on both sides. Trailing 22-21 behind, middle blocker Zhao Ruirui had a smash and then joined captain Feng Kun in a two-strong blocking to help her team overtake the lead at 23-22.
Another strike from veteran spiker Yang Hao plus a Gamova error gave China the first set at 25-22.
The Russian girls made a flying start again in the second set, building up a 4-1 lead and forcing China off for the first timeout of the set, but after coming back to the court, Zhao and Yang led a 5-0 run for the host to overtake the lead at 6-4.
It was still close as the lead was switched between both teams and the margin was never stretched to more than three points.
China beat off two set points while trailing 24-22 and building on this momentum, the Chinese girls converted on their second set point to take the set at 27-25.
The first technical timeout of the third set came with Russia in front 8-7. Xue Ming, who came onto the court as a replacement, Wang Yimei and Zhou kept the points coming for China, but the Russian girls brought up the second technical timeout at 16-13.
However, the match turned in China's favor after the resumption, with the Russian attack stuffed on the net. China used a 12-3 run to take the set at 25-19.
China's players celebrate with their coach after defeateing Russia in their women's volleyball quarterfinal match at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games on August 19, in Beijing. Defending China beat Russia 3-0 (25-22, 27-25, 25-19) to meet Brazil in the semifinals.