QINHUANGDAO — Henan’s Cui Jianjun contributed 36 points but failed to save his side in a close five-set battle against Sichuan in the second stage of the 2019-20 Chinese men’s volleyball league here on Monday.

In Group E’s first match on Monday, Sichuan took a 3-2 victory (35-33, 25-15, 18-25, 21-25, 15-11) after Henan had pulled back to level after the fourth set.

The first set saw Cui help Henan save two set points. Both teams then traded the lead several times until Sichuan broke the deadlock with two serves, winning a remarkable set 35-33.

Sichuan won the second set easily. However, Cui led Henan to fight back in the following two sets, forcing the game into a decider.

Scoring almost four consecutive points, Sichuan’s wing spiker Li Rui helped his side build a 7-1 lead that they would not lose.

Group E’s another match on Monday saw Shanghai stage a comeback win.

The defending champions lost the first set to Jiangsu 25-23, but won the following three 25-20, 25-22 and 25-23 to take a 3-1 victory.

“We started too slowly, not only in today’s match, but also in the past three matches. There might be some problems and we’ll definitely check on it,” said Wu Pengzhi, who contributed 24 points for Shanghai.

Jiangsu scared Shanghai in the final set with a 5-0 opening. But Wu, who made his debut as a regular just this season, performed well and helped his side regain the lead.

In Monday’s other match, Tianjin easily defeated Liaoning 3-0 (25-23, 25-21, 25-15) in Group G.