Chongqing, China, March 8, 2017 – Powerhouses Japan, Thailand, Korea and hosts China maintained their perfect record without any lost game at the “SMM” 11th Asian Girls’ U18 Volleyball Championship, with defending and consecutive five-time champions Japan thrashing Chinese Taipei in a lop-sided battle in the first encounter of their top-eight playoffs at the Chongqing No.8 Secondary School Gemination on Wednesday.
Iran b Uzbekistan 3-2 (17-25, 25-21, 21-25, 25-22, 15-11)
In their 9th-12th classification match, Iran narrowly beat Uzbekistan in an epic come-from-behind five-set thriller which lasted exhausting 123 minutes.
Ezozakhon Sativoldieva led Uzbekistan with 21 points from 60 attempts but could not help her team secure their maiden victory at the nine-day championship so far, as they offered 42 unforced mistakes to Iran despite the fact that the latter also produced 32 errors.
“This is a match that I will remember all my life. This is our first match that we won in this championship. I’m so emotional. This is a big and hard work. I’m so proud of my team. They played very well and I will never forget China, the host country. This is my girls’ first victory in their life. I’m sure they will never forget this day.” said Majda Cicic, head coach of Iran. “Uzbekistan played really well all the time. They also expected this victory, but only one team can win.”
Japan b Chinese Taipei 3-0 (25-14, 25-14, 25-17)
Both teams played fast volleyball however the six-time champions Japan gained the upper hand in combination and defense, especially in dealing with difficult situations. Chinese Taipei tried their best to find every possible way to attack but the dogged Japanese saved the ball to a comfortable place for counter-attacks. The battle came to a unsurprising 3-0 end in favour of Japan.
Mayu Ishikawa scored match-high 15 points from 29 attempts in an efficient way for Japan, followed by Soga Haruna with 13 points. Lee Yunshiou contributed only five for Chinese Taipei.
“They put great efforts in this game with very good conditions from the very start.” said Daichi Saegusa, head coach of Japan.
“Korea are a good team, we need to pay attention,” he added when talking about their next match with Korea.
Thailand b Hong Kong 3-0 (25-12, 25-21, 25-19)
Thailand took an easy 25-12 win in the first set, but they faced a surprising challenge from Hong Kong later. The second set saw Hong Kong lead almost all the way till 13-10. A timeout called by Jarun Niumtuptim spurred the Thais to reverse the situation then and seal the set 25-21. Hong Kong also made impressive actions in the third set as they stepped up from trailing 2-8 behind to narrow the margin 15-17. However, the Thais seized more opportunities to snatch the set 25-19.
Prapatsorn Kongudom scored a match-high 17 points from 54 attempts for Thailand, followed by Usa Daowern with 13 points. Hong Kong’s captain Yick Wingsum and Wong Waiting topscored with nine points apiece.
“After the recovery, their physical conditions are getting better and better. They tried a lot to block and defend. Fortunately, we have good blocks from Wong Waiting. However, we made too many mistakes. Thailand are a very strong team. My players are very small and it was very difficult to get points from them. We are pleased with our girls’ performances, especially our libero Fung Manchin,” said Mak Tsz Shun, head coach of Hong Kong.
China b Australia 3-0 (25-10, 25-11, 25-19)
Despite a sluggish start, formidable China gradually pulled their game together to easily beat their opponents in comfortable straight sets.
Taking the first two sets 25-10 and 25-11, China dispatched bench players to court in the third set. But the Australians were reluctant to yield as they chased closely until 17-19 and China had to bring back their main players to secure victory 25-19.
Xu Luyao and Sun Xiaoyuan led China with similar 11 points, followed by Sun Ruoqing with 10. Aimee Coleman scored a team-high six points for Australia.
“China are such a big team in the world. We were so excited to have the opportunity to play against them. I’m proud of my players because they fight for every point and we did our best. We learn that China brought back some of their better players. That was a great compliment to the girls.” said Boris Georgieff, head coach of Australia.
Korea b New Zealand 3-0 (25-9, 25-17, 25-12)
New Zealand fought hard to make troubles for Korea by emphasizing on defense. Georgina O’Dea even got injured when saving the ball in the second set. Up to nine successful blocks embarrassed Koreans as they only scored one point from blocking. However, Koreans managed to brush off New Zealand in comfortable straight sets, highlighting 15 ace serves.
“We played with a good team Korea. We got a lot touch on block but many through our hands. One of my players got an ankle injury. She was very determined and played very well.” said Sam Ryburn, head coach of New Zealand
The second top-eight match continues at the Asian Girls’ U18 Volleyball Championship on Thursday featuring some big matches including Japan versus Korea and China versus Thailand. This will determine the match order in the quarter-finals, which are due to take place on Saturday. Friday is the rest day.
Only the top four teams from this championship will be eligible for the 2017 FIVB Girls’ U18 World Championship, which is due to take place in Argentina from August 18 to 27, 2017.