NEC RED ROCKETS HAND 3-1 DEFEAT TO JIANGSU ZHONGTIAN STEEL
Ust-Kamenogorsk, Kazakhstan, July 13, 2018 – Japan’s NEC Red Rockets rose to the top of Group A of the SMM 2018 Asian Women’s Club Volleyball Championship after a 3-1 win (21-25, 26-24, 29-27, 25-22) against China’s Jiangsu Zhongtian Steel.
Captain Mizuki Yanagita and Nanami Hirose topped the scorers’ board, picking up 19 points each during Friday’s encounter at the Boris Alexandrov Sports Palace.
Yanagita said: “I am very happy for the two wins in our group round, and I feel that we played better in this match.”
Jiangsu Zhongtian Steel started off the match quite strongly, with the powerful spikes of Wenjin Yang and Xinyi Zhou. Their opponents tried to keep up with this level of play, and sustained good rallies, to slowly build good momentum. The Japan club took 16-5 at the second technical time-out with Yanagita’s swing from the left. Meanwhile, the China club imposed pressure into their serve to throw off the classically effective defense of the opposing team. Chenyue Wang took a kill down the middle to secure the first set at 25-21.
In the next set, the Japan club utilized Nanami Hirose and continued to rely on Yanagita from the wing. This opened their offense even more, and gave way to quick transitional and combination plays. The China club responded to this by firming up their net defense, and by setting up Ruoya Xu at the left flank. With the set reading 23-all, teams went into a close contest. Yang misfired, and the Japan side took set point. Hirose closed off the second set at 26-24, with a swing from the left flank.
In the third set, NEC Red Rockets succeeded in enabling the middle attack of Kaori Ueno. Later, Jiangsu Zhongtian Steel took a 12-7 lead with the help of three aces from Zhou. Han Wu and Xu helped from the flanks to settle into a 16-9 lead at the second TTO. The China club were running their offense with much confidence and variety, successfully connecting on quick combination plays. The Japanese side tried to stage a rally with the efforts of Misaki Yamauchi. Hirose connected with her swings from left, to grab the lead at 22-21. China’s Wang unleashed two winners from the service line to take set point at 25-24. Teams exchanged winners for each to seize set point, showing sheer perseverance and determination. The Japanese captain Yanagita sent off an ace to seal the third set at 29-27.
NEC Red Rockets took the 8-4 lead at the first TTO of the fourth set. Their opponents slowly closed in and equalized at 12-12 with points from Wu in attack and serve. The Japanese side tried to establish a sizeable 19-14 edge, with the help of Ueno at the middle. Jiangsu Zhongtian Steel staged a rally to come within a point at 23-22, but the final point was delivered by Japan’s Yamauchi, to close out at 25-22.
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