Thailand and Korea will play in the 2022 bronze medal rematch

Jiangmen, China, July 8, 2024 – Two unbeaten teams China and Japan have paved their paths for a highly-anticipated final of the 22nd Asian Women’s U20 Volleyball Championship at the Jiangmen Sports Center Gymnasium on Monday.

China, Japan, Thailand and Korea, all of which had achieved the Top Four at the previous edition two years ago in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan, lived up to expectations to secure their semifinal berths in Jiangmen.

It will be the 13th final of the two Asian powerhouses to battle it out for the eventual crown. Out of 12 finals they had confronted in the final showdown, China captured seven titles and Japan claim the remaining five. However, since the championship inception in 1980 in Seoul, China had already won a total of 12 titles to their name, while Japan had seven.

On Monday, fired-up China, current U21 world champion and former 12-time Asian U20 winners, put it past the determined Korea in dramatic four sets in the semifinals after taking the first two sets with ease 25-6, 25-4, going down 20-25 in the third set to capture the fourth set 25-17, match and a final berth. 

China were strong offensively with the likes of Shan Linqian and Wang Yindi, both of them competed in the gold medal-winning China team at the last year’s FIVB Women’s U21 World Championship in Mexico and Li Chenxuan and Chen Houyu, both of whom joined China at the last year’s FIVB Women’s U19 World Championship in Croatia/Hungary. Korea were also formidable in their offensive system, orchestrated by Li Jua, Jeon Dabin and Lee Jiyun.

China dominated Korea in all elements of skills. The China’s mighty attacks (39 to 29) and higher efficiency in blocking (19 to 2) and from the service line (12 to 3) proved instrumental for their victory. The winners also gave up fewer points in opponent errors (25 to 18) in the match.

Title-holders Japan also powered their way into the final of the prestigious championship in Jiangmen after managing a 3-0 (25-22, 25-11, 25-20) shutout of Thailand in the other semifinal clash on Monday.

Japan maintained their remarkable unbeaten run in the nine-day championship, dropping only one set to Korea en route to the final, their 16th showdown. Out of their previous 15 finals, Japan captured 7 titles and picked up 8 silvers. Japan won the last two editions in 2018 in Bac Ninh, Vietnam and 2022 in Nur Sultan, Kazakhstan (the 2020 edition was cancelled due to COVID-19 pandemic).

Against Thailand in the semifinals on Monday, Japan remained strong with the likes of outside hitter Miku Akimoto, who scored a match-high 33 points in their previous match against Korea, fellow outside hitters Sae Omori and Anna Uemura, who landed the Best Outside Hitter and MVP awards at the previous edition to her name. Thailand fielded not so tall, but formidable players led by hard-hitting Warisara Seetaloed.

“Japan and Thailand are very fast although they are not so tall. Their speed is incredible. However, I think Thailand has a quick defence and so, we prepared on that in this match against them. Transition is also very important and we trained more on attacks and transition play. In our final against either China or Korea, we have to perform what we have practiced and do our best in our last match here,” Japan head coach Hiroyuki Yamaguchi commented.

In this match, Miku Akimoto delivered 18 points from 15 kills and 3 blocks for Japan, while Ichiyo Ito and Sae Omori kept good company to add 14 and 13 points respectively. Warisara Seetaloed scored 11 points on the Thailand’s loss.

Meanwhile, Vietnam played one of their near-flawless performances to capture an exceptional straight-set 25-17, 25-19, 25-15 win against Chinese Taipei in the 5th-6th playoff match on Monday.

Outside hitter Dang Thi Hong delivered a match-high 22 points from 17 kills and 5 aces for Vietnam, while Chang Yi-Chi led Chinese Taipei with 16 points including 15 attacks from 38 attempts.

The Vietnam’s fifth-place finish in Jiangmen was not their best performance since their first appearance in 1996 in Thailand.  In 2016 in Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand, Vietnam came in fourth place, their best-ever performance in this underage category. As top four teams from this championship will qualify for the 2025 FIVB Volleyball Women’s U21 World Championship, except China, which have already qualified as current world champions, Vietnam are likely to make the cut for the next year’s world meet for the first time in history.

Kazakhstan settled for the 7th place in the championship following the straight-set triumph over India in their 7th-8th playoff matches earlier.

For Kazakhstan, it was a sweet revenge as at the previous edition two years ago, Kazakhstan succumbed to bitter 2-3 loss to India in the 7th-8th playoff on home soil in Nur Sultan.

Outside hitter and skipper Sofiya Gorbacheva delivered 20 points from 16 kills and 4 aces for Kazakhstan, while opposite Ayaulym Turdykhanova and outside hitter Asel Kengesbekova added another 13 and 6 points respectively. Kavita chipped in 16 points from 11 kills and 5 aces on the India’s loss.

Only two matches will be contested on Tuesday, the last day of the 22nd Asian Women’s U20 Championship in Jiangmen. The third-place playoff match between Thailand and Korea is set to get underway at 16.00pm local time, followed by the championship match between China and Japan at 19.00pm. The awards presentation and closing ceremony will also be held shortly after end of the last match.






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