DAY 7 WRAPUP
Hanoi, Vietnam, July 20, 2019 – Fired-up China powered past Thailand in straight sets on Saturday to set up a highly-anticipated final showdown with debutantes DPR Korea in the 3rd Asian Women’s U23 Volleyball Championship at the Gia Lam Gymnasium as the Sunday’s eventual winners will be crowned the 2019 Asian U23 champions with a remarkable unbeaten record.
Contested in the action-packed semi-finals at the crowded venue, China pulled off an exceptional 3-0 victory over Thailand, silver medallists at the previous two editions including the 2017 Asian U23 Championship at home in Nakhon Ratchasima, while DPR Korea recovered from the first-set loss to stun hosts Vietnam 3-1.
Against a determined Thailand, Sun Jie and Wu Han spearheaded gritty China to a hugely-impressive 3-0 (25-14 25-21 25-21) win in the thrilling semi-final clash on Saturday.
The convincing win brought China to their second final showdown in both editions they took part in. In the inaugural Asian U23 Championship in the Philippines in 2015, China made it to the final and brushed off Thailand 3-1 to capture the Asian crown. Two years later, China did not take part in the second edition in Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand.
In this third edition in Hanoi, China set up a final showdown with DPR Korea. Both teams remain unbeaten en route to the showdown, with the latter participating in the biennial competition for the first time in history.
On Saturday, Sun Jie performed brilliantly to score a team-high 15 points from 11 attacks, 3 blocks and one ace for China, while Wu Han, who joined a Chinese squad which won the gold medal at the 2017 FIVB Women’s U20 World Championship in Mexico and who won the Best Outside Spiker in that world-class event, made good company to contribute 13 points including 11 attacks from 29 attempts. Thanacha Sooksod topscored with 14 points for Thailand including 12 attacks from 30 attempts.
“We have good cooperation for this match and we think about every scenario of a difficult team. Thailand played very well and they gave us many challenges. We stayed calm with patience and that’s why we won. I think the key to our success today is patience. We played as a team. Everyone played her part. Against DPR Korea in the final, we will do the same thing as we did in preparation for the match against Thailand, that is we will go back and prepare for our next match. We hope to play well in the final,” China captain Yang Yi commented through English-speaking team manager Song Yue.
In the other semi-final clash, DPR Korea produced a terrific comeback 3-1 (18-25 25-20 26-24 25-21) win against hosts Vietnam.
Son Hyang Mi chipped in with 19 points for DPR Korea including 18 attacks from 58 attempts, while Pyon Rim Hyang made good company to add 16 points. Tran Thi Thanh Thuy topscored with 18 points including 14 attacks and 3 blocks for Vietnam.
Vietnam, which put it past fighting Kazakhstan 3-1 in the quarter-finals, fielded a formidable lineup led by the 187cm Tran Thi Thanh Thuy, Duong Thi Hen and Tran Thi Bich Thuy, while DPR Korea relied on their exceptional offensive combinations of Son Hyang Mi and Pyon Rim Hyang.
Following the win, the DPR Korean players jumped for joy, hugged their staff coaches and one another. Everybody had smiles on everybody’s faces.
The stunning win over hosts Vietnam was a sweet revenge for the DPR Korea’s loss to Vietnam in the final showdown at the last year’s VTV International Women’s Volleyball Cup in Ha Tinh, Vietnam. There, Vietnam, led by Tran Thi Thanh Thuy, who won the MVP in the tournament, beat the Koreans in straight sets for the title.
In the classification for 5th-8th playoffs earlier, in-form Kazakhstan proved too much for New Zealand to brush off the unfancied rivals in comfortable straight sets 25-12 25-17 25-17.
Kristina Belova became the only player who scored with double digits after collecting 12 points for Kazakhstan including 9 attacks from 20 attempts, while Petra Manderson led New Zealand with 7 points.
With the win, Kazakhstan will battle it out with Chinese Taipei for the 5th position on Sunday, while New Zealand play Hong Kong China in the 7th-8th playoff.
Chinese Taipei, which finished fourth place at the previous edition in Nahon Ratchasima, Thailand two years ago, put up a good show against Hong Kong China to beat the rivals in straight sets 25-15 25-22 25-23 on Saturday.
Chen Yu-Chien chipped in with 12 points including 11 attacks from 32 attempts, while Tam Ching Rachel led Hong Kong China with 7 points.
“It’s a close game. Young players in my teams including the 19-year-old Chen Yu-Chien performed well. In the first set, we played well in serving and attacking, but in the second and third sets, they came up with up and down again. If you see the opponents’ errors, we still made more mistakes than Hong Kong China. This will be a good lesson for my team to play more carefully and confidently. We will play Kazakhstan in the 5th-6th place playoff. They are tall and strong, but we will try to beat them,” Japanese Koji Tsizirabara, head coach of Chinese Taipei, commented after the match.
Meanwhile, the 9th-10th playoff encounter between Australia and India at Tay Ho Gymnasium saw the former pull off a dramatic 3-1 (25-17 25-19 11-25 25-19) win against the latter. Australia took the 9th place, with India in 10th position.
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