Tang shines for China to get closer to fourth Paralympic gold

China booked their spot in the gold medal match after sweeping Canada in the semifinal. This marks the fifth time in five Paralympic Games China is battling for the top podium spot.

It will be a repeat of the Rio 2016 final as the reigning gold medallists United States earlier won their semifinal match over Brazil.

Tang Xuemei led the way for the three-time champions with 13 points off seven attacks, two blocks and four aces. On Canada’s side, youngster Julie Kozun chipped in 11 points off nine attacks and two aces. Scoring leader Heidi Peters was limited to five points.

“I think we had a very good game today. I think our mood, our confidence and also our experience are the parts where we were much stronger on today’s game. We will try our best in the final,” Xu Yixiao said.

“I think we know the USA and the USA also know us well. Our team will try our best to showcase and bring a very nice match at the Paralympic sitting volleyball final.”

Facing an undefeated foe, Canada was not intimidated and got ahead to the first technical timeout 8-7. China eventually took the lead with the Canadians trying to stay close at 16-13. Canada showed resilience and consistency, but China answered back with some pressure on the serve until eventually winning the set 25-19.

Canada continued to show their fighting spirit in the second set but found themselves trailing 8-4. China, however, picked up the pace of its game and put themselves up 16-8 in the second technical time out. The three-time champions continued their progress and pulled away in the set. Canada attempted to gain some momentum but China eventually won the much closer set 25-20.

The third set showed some world class rallies with Canada trying to level up its game. Tang, however, stepped up her all-around game from defence to offence and service. Canada matched the opposition with a great serving game from Julie Kozun, who helped her team stay within touching distance. Despite their best efforts, however, Canada found themselves trailing 21-13. China continued to show top form and eventually closed the match 25-16.

“I think we just got to keep playing our game, we have got to keep aggressive on the service line and do the little things well,” libero Jolan Wong said about the bronze medal match.

“Honestly, I think just minimising our errors. Keep bringing the aggression that we’re bringing. We’ve worked so hard in the past year to get where we are right now, and just minimising our errors I think will make the big difference in that game.”