Surabaya, Indonesia, July 31, 2017 – Japan completely smashed Indonesia’s sweet dreams of playing in the final showdown of the SMM 19th Asian Senior Men’s Volleyball Championship for the first time in history after annihilating the host side in a closely-contested straight-set battle in the semi-finals at the packed Tri Dharma Petrokimia Gymnasium on Monday.
Japan, defending and eight-time Asian winners, advanced to the final clash after thrashing Indonesia 25-17 26-24 25-23 in front of a large crowd of around 3,500 home fans.
Japan, which suffered the only 2-3 loss to Korea in their first round Pool B clash, have been initially regarded as one of the strongest title contenders in this championship. Earlier this month, Japan, starred by Yuki Ishikawa and Masahiro Yanagida, won the 2018 FIVB Volleyball Men’s World Championship AVC Qualifier Pool B in Canberra, Australia and the fourth place at this year’s World League Group 2.
Indonesia also won all hearts of home fans on Sunday when they stunned former successive two-time winners Iran to advance to the top four of the Asian meet for the first time in 42 years since the inaugural tournament in 1975 in Melbourne, Australia.
With Yanagida exploding terrific mid-court attacks and solid blocks by Akihito Yamauchi and Yuki Ishikawa, Japan took the comfortable first set 25-17. Boosted by cheering home fans, Indonesia came back much stronger in the second set to take a commanding 19-13 lead. Nonetheless, the Japanese were just never-say-die as they gradually pulled their game and chased for points. Leading 24-23 for good, Indonesia needed only one more point to wrap up the second set, but they just let the opportunity slip through their fingers. Japan caught up with the hosts 24-24 and went on their onslaughts to clinch two-pointer for the 26-24 win.
The third set saw Indonesia come up with more confidence and consistency. However, they still found the Japanese too strong. Japan continued their good show to win the hotly-contested set 25-23 and match.
Yuki Ishikawa scored a team-high 20 points for Japan including 16 kills from 26 attempts. Masahiro Yanagida contributed 7 kills and one great serve, Rivan Nurmulki led Indonesia with 21 points from 19 kills, one block and one ace. Rendy Fabricant Tamamilang contributed 5 points through his powerful hits.
Japan will next go up against Kazakhstan in the final showdown, with hosts Indonesia taking on Korea in the third-place playoff.
“We played a very good match against Indonesia at their home. In the second set, we made a lot of mistakes in serving and that’s why we struggled. Against Kazakhstan, our serving and passing remain the key to success. As far as I’m concerned, Indonesia, Kazakhstan and Korea are much stronger than before. We can’t beat them easily anymore. Tomorrow will be our last match in the tournament, we just try to do our best and focus on what we have been training for,” Japan’s head coach Yuichi Nakagaichi commented after the match.
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