(ATTN: ADDS comments from 8th para, photo)
By Kim Boram
INCHEON, Oct. 3 (Yonhap) -- South Korea pulled off a come-from-behind victory over China on Friday to gain bronze in men's volleyball at the Incheon Asian Games.
The home team lost the first set but came back to beat China 3-1 (20-25, 25-20, 25-13, 25-22) in the bronze-medal contest in Songnim Gymnasium in Incheon.
It had lost to Japan 3-1 in the semifinals on Thursday to settle for the third place decider.
Right-handed outside attacker Jeon Kwang-in led the triumph, scoring the match-best 21 points including 18 kills and 2 aces, while Kwak Seung-suk lent support with 15 points.
Both teams played seesaw in the beginning of the first set until the first technical timeout. The towering Chinese middle blockers intercepted the South Korean attack line of Seo Jae-duck and Kwak Seung-suk to help the team get a 15-11 lead.
China didn't lose control and finished the set at 25-20.
The second set went in a similar fashion as the two were tied at 8-8 after the first technical timeout. Seo Jae-duck's block then gave the home team a 10-9 lead for the first time.
Tightening their defense, the South Koreans stretched the lead to 16-13.
Coach Park Ki-won called for a timeout when China chased to 20-18 with its blistering blocks by Zhong Weijun and Geng Xin.
With Park's tips, quick attacks by Choi Min-ho and Shin Yung-suk pushed the score to 25-20.
In the third set, South Korea took an early 8-4 lead with Jeon Kwang-in's serve faltering the Chinese reception.
The South Korean side picked up the tempo as three straight points by setter Han Sun-soo's block, Shin Yung-suk's ace and Choi Min-ho's block made it 16-9. Then, the game went lopsided to end 25-13.
The home team continued its strength in the fourth set to take control at 8-5 by the first technical timeout. But it struggled with China's powerful serve and the score tied at 13-13, losing control to China 14-13 by Liang Chunlong's block.
Setter Han blocked Zhong Weijun's spike twice to help South Korea regain the lead and widen the gap to 19-16.
Jeon won the bronze medal point to cap the set 25-22.
Jeon said his team was determined to win the last match at the Asiad.
"After the semifinals defeat, we had a hard time dealing with frustration," the 23-year-old told reporters in the mixed zone, with red eyes filled with tears. "But we regrouped to have a nicer finale here in Incheon. All the team members are the best players in the country. I won't ever forget this squad."
Coach Park Ki-won stammered, wiping away tears.
"My players did well today," he said. "It's all my fault."
The South Korean men's volleyball has fielded the best line-up at the Incheon Asian games in their quest for a first gold medal in eight years since it had won two straight Asiad titles in 2002 and 2006. But they've failed to reach the finals each time and instead collected two bronzes from the recent two Asiads.
The women's team, on the other hand, claimed the gold medal for the first time in 20 years after beating China 3-0 on Thursday.
The team had not given up even a set in six games including the final against China.