China women's volleyball claims gold at Jakarta Asian Games

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It was no surprise when star spiker Zhu Ting, with a powerful kill, sealed the victory for China in the final of women's volleyball here on Saturday.

Once again, the Chinese women's national volleyball team beat its opponents in straight sets at the Jakarta Asian Games here, winning an Asiad gold after an interval of eight years.

But the match on Saturday was by no means an uneventful one, with China's opponents Thailand famous for their resilience and beating China's arch rivals South Korea 3-1 in the semifinal.

It was Thailand that got off to a good start and led 8-6 by the first technical timeout in the first set. But China managed to level the score 9-9 with a block by Yan Ni, and turned the tide 14-12 with four straight points.

After that, China kept the lead and won the set 25-19. The second and third sets turned out smoother, as China, led by Zhu Ting and with strong spikes and solid blocking, took dominance for most of the time and won 25-17, 25-13.

It was also the eighth gold medal for the Chinese women's volleyball at the Asian Games.

For China coach Lang Ping, the gold medal has a special significance, as this year marks the 40th anniversary of her first appearance as a volleyball player at the Asian Games in Bangkok in 1978. Lang won a silver along with her team at the Bangkok Asiad.

"We prepared very well and played patiently today," Lang said after the match on Saturday, adding that she felt winning the gold medal was like a gift from her team to her for the anniversary.

It was also the first time for China's star spiker Zhu Ting to participate in the Asian Games, though she has already won the golds along with the Chinese team at the 2015 FIVB Volleyball Women's World Cup and the 2016 Summer Olympics.

"The Asian Games were special," said Zhu. "Every team and every spiker have their own characteristics and are worth learning from," she said.

Young spiker Li Yingying were also excited about the win and said she had learnt a lot from the Games. "After so many matches here, I feel that I now have better control of the ball," said the 18-year-old Li.

As captain, Zhu was also happy for the team's growth. "We are turning better in a few aspects that had previously been our weak points. Our young players are also doing better and better," she said.

The next challenge for the Chinese Olympic champions will be the FIVB Women's World Championship that will kick off later this month in Japan.

"To achieve good results at world-level games, we have to top the Asian teams first," said coach Lang Ping.

Zhu said that just like they had prepared for the Asiad, the team would also be dedicated to preparing for the upcoming World Championship and analyze every opponent.

"Every team is different, and every game is also different. We will learn from the different games against different opponents and do better in the future," she said.

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