China (CHN) vs. Italy (ITA) women - Final 1-2 #6621929

The Chinese team celebrate their victory in Leon

After six years, China are back at the top of the podium at the youth level as the country’s national team triumphed at the 2023 FIVB Volleyball Women’s U21 World Championship in Leon and Aguascalientes, Mexico, on Saturday.

The Asians came back twice in the gold medal match to defeat Italy 3-2 (19-25, 25-25, 23-25, 25-22, 15-8) in Leon and take the title. Brazil finished third in the event.

The tournament matches are available on the Volleyball World YouTube channel.

The Chinese resilience was in full display since the opening day of the tournament as, after dropping their first match in Mexico in straight sets to Serbia, the Asians never looked back, winning their next seven matches to end the week in first place - they also won three-straight tie-breakers during the elimination rounds.

The first U21 world champions among the women, the Chinese returned to the top of the podium at an Age Group World Championship for the first time since 2017, when the nation’s U20 team took its third title, following victories in 1995 and 2013.

“It was a very tough match and we had to deal with a lot of pressure to take the title,” Chinese head coach Kuang Qi reflected. “We’re not better than Italy, but we are the champions.”

Against Italy, China relied once again on their strong outside hitter duo to triumph. While team captain Yushan Zhuang topped all scorers with 23 points (21 kills, two blocks), Xin Tang added another 17, with 13 kills, three aces and one block.

China (CHN) vs. Italy (ITA) women - Final 1-2 #6621161

China's Ziyue Wan had a 15-point performance in the gold medal match

Outside hitter Stella Nervini was Italy’s most reliable scorer with 21 points (20 kills, one block), while opposite Anna Adelusi, who was on and off the court during the final, registered 13 (12 kills, one block).

China’s higher efficiency in blocking (14 points to Italy’s seven) and from the service line (five aces to two) proved instrumental for their victory as the points scored in these skills helped the Asians offset the Italian offensive superiority (69 kills to 59). The champions also gave up fewer points in errors (25 to 29) in the final.

“We’re very happy,” commented setter Yalun Zhao. “I honestly didn’t think we could beat Italy, but we did it and we’re super excited.”

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

In the bronze medal match, Brazil secured their spot on the podium with a 3-0 (25-16, 25-21, 25-14) victory over Japan. Six-time world champions in the U21 Age Group, the South Americans returned to the podium for the first time since 2015, when they took one of their five silvers.

Outside hitter Helena Wenk led the Brazilian victory with 15 points (ten kills, five blocks), followed by middle blocker Juliana Gandra, who produced 14 (12 kills, two blocks). Outside hitter Amika Saiki was Japan’s leading scorer with 11 points (nine kills, two blocks).

Türkiye finished fifth following a 3-1 (26-28, 25-20, 25-19, 25-18) victory over the United States while Serbia came back to take hosts Mexico down 3-2 (19-25, 24-26, 25-18, 25-13, 16-14) and rank seventh in a pair of matches held in Leon.

In Aguascalientes, Argentina guaranteed a ninth-place finish with a 3-0 (25-12, 25-19, 25-23) sweep of the Netherlands. Poland ranked 11th after their 3-1 (21-25, 25-17, 25-18, 25-20) victory over Cuba.

Earlier, Egypt swept the Dominican Republic 3-0 (25-23, 25-21, 25-14) to rank 13th and Thailand picked up a 3-0 (26-24, 25-13, 25-20) victory over Tunisia to claim 15th place.

Quick links:
FIVB Volleyball Women's U21 World Championship
Subscribe to Volleyball World's Newsletter