China (CHN) vs. Brazil (BRA) women - Semifinals #6610472

Chinese players celebrate their semifinal win over Brazil with their fans

Two of the most traditional women’s volleyball nations on the planet, China and Italy will meet for the title of the 2023 FIVB Volleyball Women’s U21 World Championship on Saturday in Leon, Mexico.

The Asians and the Europeans overcame the semifinal round of the tournament on Friday and will face off for the title at 20:00 local time (02:00 UTC, Sunday), in the final match of the event. Brazil and Japan will play for bronze three hours earlier.

The tournament is streamed live on the Volleyball World YouTube channel.

Both national teams have celebrated multiple world titles on the U20 Age Group, which preceded the current U21, with the Chinese having taken gold in 1995, 2013 and 2017 and the Italians stepping at the top of the podium in 2011 and 2021.

This year, the Italians have been flawless during their campaign in Leon and Aguascalientes, having won all their seven matches in the U21 World Championship while dropping just three sets. China, on the other hand, started the event with an upset, falling to Serbia, but since then have won all their six matches, including two tie-breakers.

The most recent of them happened in the semifinals on Friday, when the Asians almost blew a two-set lead against Brazil, but found their best game again in the tie-breaker to secure a 3-2 (27-25, 25-17, 20-25, 19-25, 15-6) victory.

In order to defeat the South Americans, China needed excellent performances from both their outside hitters as Xin Tang registered a match-high 23 points (22 kills, one ace) while team captain Yushan Zhuang added another 20 (18 kills, two blocks).

“We did a very good job winning the first two sets, but then Brazil started to push us and I felt like we lost our focus a little bit,” Tang analyzed. “Coming into the tie-breaker, we were just determined to do our best to win. This was a very important match and we got our focus back, which was great.”

Brazil had three players tied with 13 points – middle blocker Juliana Gandra, opposite Gabriela Carneiro and outside hitter Helena Wenk – and another one with 12 – middle blocker Luzia Nezzo.

**2023 FIVB Volleyball Women’s U21 World Championship: Match Schedule and Results**

Italy, on the other hand, had to play just three sets to book their spot in the gold medal match. The Europeans were dominant in the second semifinal against Japan and got their fourth sweep in the tournament with a 3-0 (25-22, 25-13, 25-18) win.

Opposite Anna Adelusi was the top Italian scorer in the match, getting 18 points with 15 kills and three blocks. Outside hitter Stella Nervini reached double digits as well, tallying 12 points (ten kills, two blocks).

“I'm really proud of my team, I think we played very well today,” commented libero Manuela Ribechi. “We served very well and were also extremely effective with our offense. China are a really good team and will be tough opponents for us. We've been focused on every play and we'll try to do the same on the final.”

On the Japanese side, outside hitters Amika Sakai and Ayane Kitamado were the main scorers with ten and nine points respectively.

Italy (ITA) vs. Japan (JPN) women - Semifinals #6610538

Italy's Giulia Marconato overcomes the Japanese block

On Saturday, it will also take place the finals for positions 5th to 16th. The fifth-place spot is between Türkiye, who overcame Serbia 3-1 (22-25, 26-24, 25-14, 25-22), and the United States, who topped hosts Mexico 3-2(23-25, 25-21, 27-25, 24-26, 15-11). Serbians and Mexicans will play for seventh place.

Argentina, who beat Cuba 3-1 (25-20, 24-26, 25-17, 25-19), and the Netherlands, who triumphed over Poland also 3-1 (19-25, 25-21, 31-29, 25-20), will play for ninth in Aguascalientes, with Cubans and Polish dueling for 11th place.

Egypt and the Dominican Republic will compete for 13th place in the event, also in Aguascalientes. The Egyptians prevailed 3-1 (25-23, 24-26, 25-13, 25-14) in an African duel with Tunisia while the Caribbean triumphed over Thailand 3-0 (25-23, 25-23, 25-20). Tunisians and Thais will meet for 15th place.

Quick links:
FIVB Volleyball Women's U21 World Championship
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