Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand, July 22, 2016 – China are back to defend their title at the SMM 18th Asian Women’s U19 Volleyball Championship from July 23 to 31, with 15 teams vying for the eventual Asian title and the top two teams which will represent the continent at the next year’s FIVB Women’s 20 Volleyball World Championship in Mexico.
Hosts Thailand, Vietnam and Sri Lanka are in Pool A, while Pool B features Hong Kong, New Zealand, title-holders China and Kazakhstan. Pool C comprises Macao, Iran, Japan and India, with Korea, Taiwan, Australia and the Philippines in Pool D.
The group round-robin preliminaries will take place from July 23 to 25 in two venues – The Mall Nakhon Ratchasima’s MCC Hall and Nakhon Ratchasima Rajabhat University Gymnasium. Thailand, fresh from landing the prestigious Princess Cup after brushing off Vietnam 3-1 in the Wednesday’s final showdown of the Asean Women’s U19 Championship in Si Sa Ket, will renew their rivalry in their opening encounter on Saturday.
On Saturday, at the MCC Hall, New Zealand will open their campaign against China at 2pm, followed by the match between Hong Kong and Kazakhstan and Thailand against Vietnam. The opening match at the Nakhon Ratchasima Rajabhat University Gymnasium will see Macao pitted against India at 12pm, followed by the match between Iran and Japan, Taiwan against Australia and Korea against the Philippines.
Only China, Japan and Korea have captured the Asian title. China did not make the top-three podium at the inaugural tournament in 1980 in Seoul, Korea, but since then have claimed a majority 11 titles. China took silver for three times and bronze twice. Japan captured five titles,with Korea winning one.
China are sending a strong field this time led by Yang Hanyu, the tournament’s tallest player with the incredible height of 195cm. Most of the Chinese players came from Shandong and Jiangsu Clubs.
Hosts Thailand have never reigned supreme in this championship. Their best result came in 2002 when they took silver medal after going down to eventual winners China in the final showdown. At the previous edition two years ago in Taipei, China captured their 11th title after powering past Japan 3-1 in the final clash, while Korea narrowly beat Thailand 3-2 in the third-place playoff.
Thailand are also strong with the likes of Pimpichaya Kokram and Chutchu-on Moksri, both of whom joined the Thailand national senior team at the recent FIVB World Grand Prix, and are expected to make their mark in front of home fans at the top-flight competition.
The general technical meeting was held on Friday evening, followed by the opening ceremony and the welcome party at Sima Thani Hotel
The group round-robin preliminaries takes place on Saturday and after the three-day first round, top two teams from each pool will advance to the last eight teams, which will be divided into four apiece to compete in Pool E and Pool F.
Teams will contest the pool round-robin event and will be ranked for the cross knockout quarter-finals, with Pool E winners taking on Pool F fourth place and Pool E second place challenging Pool F third place. The four winners in this round will then test their mettle in the semi-finals, with the two winning teams setting up for a final showdown.
SMM and Thairath TV will televise the Thai match live everyday, while all the matches at The Mall Nakhon Ratchasima’s MCC Hall can be watched live through AIS Play and PlayBox. In addition, for internet viewers, the Thai matches can also be watched live through www.smmtv.com.