China’s miracle run continues.
The Chinese women’s volleyball team rallied to take down powerhouse Brazil in the quarterfinals Tuesday and then held off the upstart Netherlands squad in a hotly-contested semifinal match Thursday in four sets (27-25, 23-25, 29-27, 25-23).
And now China will get a chance at history behind coach Jenny Lang Ping, the former coach of the U.S. women’s team.
Ping has brought her team back from the brink and could become the first person in history to win a gold as both a player and coach.
China came into the Olympics as the No. 3-ranked team in the world, but was upset by this Netherlands team in the first preliminary match and wound up with only seven points in five prelim matches and the No. 4 seed coming out of Pool B.
But the Chinese women took down the No. 1 seed in the knockout round – a Brazil team that hadn’t lost a set in the entire Olympics and was playing in front of a raucous home crowd in its corner.
The Netherlands began Thursday’s match with a 10-4 lead, riding the momentum from the best touranment in the country’s history in which they went 4-1 in the preliminary round and then took down Korea in the quarterfinals.
The Dutch women haven’t been in the Olympics in 20 years and now have the opportunity to take home the program’s first medal ever.
But that medal won’t be made out of gold or silver, thanks in large part to sloppy play, handing China 27 points on unforced errors throughout the four sets Thursday night.
A lot of those issues were service faults, the same problem that faced the U.S. team earlier on Thursday.
In the crucial third set, the Netherlands battled back to a tie at 27-all, but a service fault gave China a set point it did not relinquish, turning the tide in the match.
The Dutch also had no answer for Chinese star Zhu Ting, who had 33 points and two blocks in the match and now has a ridiculous 61 points over the last two matches.
China will move on to play Serbia for gold Thursday evening while the Netherlands will battle USA for bronze Thursday afternoon.