Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar, August 10, 2019 – Chinese Taipei smashed Japan’s sweet dreams of making back-to-back final after edging past the unbeaten rivals in hard-fought five-set thriller 25-20 25-17 16-25 15-25 19-17 to power their way to the Sunday’s showdown against the winners between India and Pakistan at the 3rd Asian Men’s U23 Volleyball Championship at Hall B inside the Wunna Theikdi Indoor Stadium in Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar.
Chinese Taipei, bronze medallists at both previous edition in 2015 and 2017, handed Japan, silver medallists at the 2017 edition in Ardabil, Iran, the first loss in this top-flight championship, forcing the Japanese to crash out of the title race they had reached two years ago.
Chang Yu-Sheng chipped in with 25 points including 22 attacks for Chinese Taipei. Arai Yudai led Japan with 24 points including 21 attacks from 37 attempts.
Led by powerful Chang Yu-Sheng, Chinese Taipei made a solid start and caught fire shortly after that. With Chang Yu-Sheng and Chan Minhan attacking spectacularly at the wing, Chinese Taipei clinched the first two sets 25-20, 25-17.
Holding a 0-2 disadvantage, Japan came back much stronger at the beginning of the third set. Arai Yudai and Kento Miyaura were devastating form as they joined forces in penetrating the Chinese Taipei’s defence with their powerful attacks. Japan led 14-6, widened the gap to 20-13 to take the set 25-16.
With Chinese Taipei riddled with several unforced attacking mistakes in the fourth set, Japan grabbed the chance to counter-attack and block effectively to advance 22-15 and went on to win the set 25-15.
Both teams shone through their exceptional form in the decider. Though putting up an aggressive fightback, Chinese Taipei found the rivals uncatchable from the very beginning, but substitutions turned the tide for Chinese Taipei as they stormed on to win the comeback tie-breaker 19-17, match and a final berth.
“Chinese Taipei are the only team that handed Japan the loss. Actually, they are tough opponents to be reckoned with in this championship. My tactics in the first two sets worked and brought victory to our team but then Japan made some clever rotation and could catch up with us. My players also made service errors that was key to our loss in the next two sets. In the deciding set, I shuffled the lineup to beat them,” Serbian Moro Branislav, head coach of Chinese Taipei, commented after the match.
Chinese Taipei’s topscorer Chang Yu-Sheng said after the match, “That we beat Japan was a big victory itself. After the fourth set, I asked my teammates to calm down and substitutions empowered us to win. Against China on Friday, we used high balls as they were tall but today, we used a combination of tactics to beat Japan.”
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