Australia has been beaten 3-1 by home team China in an FIVB Volleyball World League match in Kunsan, bringing to an end an impressive four-game Volleyroos winning streak.
Australian coach Mark Lebedew took the opportunity to rest several of his key players, including captain Paul Carroll and the ultra-consistent Nathan Roberts, but the young team started strongly taking the opening set 25-17.
But the momentum changed in the following sets, China winning the next three 19-25, 23-25, 17-25 to avenge last weekend’s 3-0 loss to Australia and to regain the Hancock Prospecting Cup.
“Today was disappointing,” Lebedew said.
“We started really well but weren't able to maintain the level. The key moment was in the third set, when we had a really strong period but were not able to build enough of a lead to close the set.
“Our sideout was strong in the first and third, but our block and defence were not good enough and we didn't take the chances we created.
“Overall I am still satisfied that we made some progress and I am sure it will drive us onwards to finish the group stage strongly tomorrow against Turkey.”
Lebedew said he felt his team was in the match until the third set.
“The players kept calm in the important moments especially in the third set,” he said.
“I think the third set is the key, we fought to control the game against China, but we missed some chances, lost some serves.
“It is mentally difficult for us to fight back, but the players tried until the last point.”
Lincoln Williams top scored for Australia with 18 points, while Sam Walker finished with 13. Captain Paul Carroll, watching from the sidelines, said
his team struggled to cope with the Chinese serve.
“China played hard today, they fought harder than last week, I think this is because they are playing at home,” he said.
“Our receiving was not good today, they hit many good serves. If you didn't play your best, you lost.”
The Australians finish the preliminary rounds of the 2017 World League against Turkey later today, and then head to the Gold Coast to host the Group Two semi-finals next weekend.