Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar, April 4, 2017 – Smaller, but steadier, Japan became a giant killer following their exceptional straight-set 25-16 29-27 25-22 win over tall and towering China to storm into the final showdown of the SMM 11th Asian Boys’ U19 Volleyball Championship at the Wunna Theikdi Indoor Stadium on Tuesday.
Japan, the only team in the top-notch competition which have yet lost a set to their respective rivals en route to the semi-final encounter against China, performed brilliantly with mighty attacks led by devastating left-hander Kento Miyaura and Mahiro Saeki and scintillating blocks from Shunsuke Nakamura and Hirohito Kashimura to capture the first set 25-16.
In the second set, Japan still covered the court marvellously, while China also played well with sharp spikes from the 203cm Xiu Chengcheng and the 204cm Zhang Jignyin. China pulled their game together and hit back strongly. At 24-24, both sides tried hard to cope with the rivals’ tactics. As leads changed hands for several times, Japan held their nerves and fought back to win the hard-fought set 29-27.
Both teams poured everything they had in the third set, entertaining the spectators at the competition venue with their superb skills and tactics. Japan fared better to win the close set 25-22, match and a final berth.
Kento Miyaura scored a match-high 19 points including 17 kills from 36 attempts, while Mahiro Saeki contributed 15 points through his deadly attacks. Zhang Jingyin topscored with 17 points for China. Tian Cong added 11 kills and one ace serve.
Japan’s head coach Hiroshi Honda was satisfied with his team’s dazzling performance, giving credit of the team’s success to their teamwork. “It’s great for Japan to win this tough match against China to play in the final again. However, I think that it was very difficult to play the Chinese. They are tall with high blocks, but our teamwork worked out pretty well. China’s reception was not good this time and they came up with blocks we could overcome with high touch. However, the key to our team’s victory was that we can block well and had good reception. Against Korea or Iran in the Wednesday’s final, we have to do our best.”
With the stunning win over China, Japan advanced to the final clash to take on the winners between Korea and Iran on Wednesday. It’s two times in a row that Japan made it to the final of this biennial tournament. At the previous edition in Sri Lanka in 2014, Japan also made it to the final round, only beaten by powerhouses Iran in the showdown.
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