Seoul, Korea, August 23, 2019 – China captured the top spot in Pool F after defeating title-holders Japan in thrilling tie-breaker win 14-25 25-11 25-21 18-25 15-12 in their last Top 8 playoffs match at the 20th Asian Senior Women’s Volleyball Championship at Jamsil Indoor Gym on Friday.

With the victory, China handed Japan, fielding a strong U20 squad which last month captured the FIVB Women’s U20 World Championship in Mexico, the first loss in the eight-day competition. China made a clean sweep in Pool F with 9 points, while Japan finished second with 6 points from two wins against one loss. China and Japan advanced to the cross semi-finals on Saturday, with the former taking on Thailand and the latter challenging hosts Korea.

In the beginning of the match, China made use of their height advantage to attack powerfully at the net, while Japan capitalized on fast spikes. The Japanese initially led 8-6, thanks to Mayu Ishikawa’s defensive tactics and Miwako Osaka’s powerful attacks. They stretched it to 16-9 when Nanami Seki scored back-to-back points with her exceptional attacks as Japan took the first set 25-14.

The second set was dominated by China when Zhang Yichan unleashed a barrage of fierce attacks which always went unanswered. Though Japan tried to put their acts together and played a better game, China proved them wrong as they roared back with huge attacks, impeccable defence and well-placed serves to win the one-sided set 25-11.

Japan came up with speed and power at the net play, but China trusted in their scintillating blocking and attacks. Liu Yanhan, who won the second Best Outside Spiker at this year’s Volleyball Nations League Finals, led the China’s attacks and Fang Duan backed up her team-mate. China clinched the third set 25-21.

In the fourth set, China’s setter Dia Linyu was replaced by Sun Yan because of an unexpected injury caused by a clash while the Chinese were attempting to retrieve a spike from the rivals. Japan didn’t let the win slip through their fingers. With Minami Nishimura and Mayu Ishikawa at the helm with their attacks, Japan stole the show to win the set 25-18, leaving the game to end in tie-breaker.

In the decider, Japan jumped to a 3-0 lead and widened the gap to 8-5, seizing the chance when China were error-strewn. However, the Chinese regained their composure and revived their fortunes to take the narrow lead with a one-point clear at 9-8. China never looked back to win the set 15-12 and the five-set thriller.

Fang Duan, one of the China’s key players, said, “We’re very happy to win this game because it was a really tough game. We weren’t sure whether we’d win or not, especially with our setter getting injured during the fourth set. Despite all the obstacles, we stayed focused and did not give up so I think that’s why we were able to win this match. Determination to win and faith in ourselves were the only two factors which helped us win this match.

China’s team captain Liu Yanhan said, “We’re very happy to win this game. The opponents gave us a lot of pressure in the beginning but we were able to manage it.”

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