Ningbo, China, May 15, 2018 - Teenage sensation Yingying Li provided an awesome reminder of why she is regarded as one of China's rising stars as she helped the host-nation to an emphatic 3-0 (25-17, 25-15, 25-11) win over the Dominican Republic in the opening round of the inaugural women's FIVB Volleyball Nations League on Tuesday.
With China's captain Zhu Ting sitting out the match, the 18-year-old Li took over the reins and produced a dominant all-round display, scoring 17 points, as the world's number one team flexed their muscles with an ominous victory against a brave Dominican Republic team.
Li was well supported by her star-studded team mates, with Xinyue Yuan (13 points) and Xiaotong Liu (10 points) both making strong contributions as the Rio Olympic champions collected maximum points with a straight sets win to reinforce their status as one of the favourites to create history by winning the new competition.
Dominican Republic, ranked 9th in the world, stuck with China for almost half of the opening set but were unable to keep up with the tournament hosts, despite a strong showing from outside hitter Brayelin Martinez (12 points), Gaila Gonzalez (6 points) and veteran middle blocker Annerys Vargas contributing three.
Li signalled her intentions from the outset with an early spike but it was China's scrambling defense and improvised shotmaking that proved decisive in the set, exemplified by one of the best rallies of the match which ended with Xia Ding hitting the winner.
China racked up 16 spikes in winning the opening set and kept the Dominican Republic under constant pressure in the second set with even better defence, scoring off seven blocks in the set, with Xiaotong Liu's effort giving China a 2-0 lead.
The third set was the host team's most dominant, highlighted by three unreturnable serves, including an ace from Li as China registered their 21st win from their last 22 matches against Dominican Republic.
China faces Belgium in the next round of matches on Wednesday while Dominican Republic takes on Korea.