Pac-12 all-star team wraps up first stop on China tour with 3-1 record

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Pac-12 Conference

SANMING, China - The third time was the charm for the Fujian team Saturday evening as the local squad defeated the Pac-12 All-Star Team 26-24, 22-25, 15-25, 25-21, 15-11 in Sanming, China. The Conference team had defeated the Chinese professional team in each of its first two matches of the tour and leaves its first stop with a 3-1 overall record.

While the Pac-12 team had recovered from a difficult travel schedule to China and adjusted to the time zone earlier in the week, adversity struck again when setter Madi Bugg from Stanford was unable to play because of flu-like symptoms.

Arizona freshman Penina Snuka, who had been a key substitute for serving and passing for the first three matches, started at setter and had a number of point-saving digs throughout the match. She connected early and often with UCLA’s Karsta Lowe, who had 23 kills.

After trading points throughout the first set, the Pac-12 led 24-22 but was unable to score the final point and lost 24-26.

The Chinese team maintained the momentum in the next set and was up 5-2 early. A block by Snuka and Arizona State’s Whitney Follette tied the score at 9-9. The Pac-12 had the lead 20-19 after Snuka had a fan-pleasing dig, extending a volley that ended with a block by Lowe and Melanie Wade from Washington. After a number of exciting rallies, the crowd came alive in support of the local team but a kill by Lowe put the Pac-12 up 23-21. Another kill by the UCLA opposite finished the set, evened the match, and quieted the chanting crowd of about 2,500.

Service errors plagued both teams throughout, and the Conference team finished with 17 on the night. Hitting and passing errors by its opponent, though, helped the Pac-12 to a 20-15 lead in the third set when Utah’s Chelsey Schofield extended the lead with three-straight kills on Fujian overpasses at the net. An ace by Lowe finished the set and gave the all-stars at 2-1 lead in the match.

There were a number of long rallies and crowd-pleasing plays as the fourth set saw no team lead by more than two points until Fujian capitalized on Pac-12 errors and violations to go ahead 20-15. The Conference team could not come back and the match went to the decisive fifth set.

For both teams, this was the fourth-straight night of competition and fatigue was obvious on both sides of the net. The vocal crowd provided adrenaline for the local team, though, and the Pac-12 was down 6-8 when the teams switch sides and would never relinquish the lead.

The match ended about 11 p.m. local time, and the team departed Sanming two hours later to head to Beijing. After two days of sight-seeing in the Chinese capital, the all-stars are scheduled to face the local Beijing professional team Tuesday.