JAPAN AND CHINA SET UP CLASH OF THE TITANS FOR MUCH-ANTICIPATED FINAL REMATCH AT 14TH ASIAN WOMEN’S U18 CHAMPIONSHIP IN NAKHON PATHOM

JAPAN AND CHINA SET UP CLASH OF THE TITANS FOR MUCH-ANTICIPATED FINAL REMATCH AT 14TH ASIAN WOMEN’S U18 CHAMPIONSHIP IN NAKHON PATHOM

DAY 7 WRAP UP

Nakhon Pathom, Thailand, June 12, 2022 – Defending and eight-time champions Japan and former four-time winners China set up final clash of the Titans in the 14th Asian Women’s U18 Volleyball Championship at Nakhon Pathom Sports Centre Gymnasium after eliminating their respective rivals in action-packed semifinals on Sunday, with the former capturing a sensational win against Thailand and the latter stunning Korea with a comeback 3-1 triumph.

Against the host side, formidable Japan silenced the cheering local enthusiasts and fans inside the competition venue with their splendid teamwork mixed with combination attacks and scintillating blocks to gain a stranglehold over the first two sets which they won without much effort 25-11, 25-19.

A side packed with young talents, but too often they suffered from unforced mistakes and a lack of communication when the going got tough, Thailand responded well in the hard-fought third set to eventually come through and catch the strong visitors at 24-24.

Nonetheless, the fired-up Japanese appeared to do the trick and bounced back in style to get the job done effortlessly while showing flashes of the brilliance that took them past the rivals. They nailed two crucial points to wrap up the hotly-contested set 26-24 for match and a place in the showdown.

Following the exceptional win, Japan advanced to the final, their 11th in history since they first made it in the inaugural championship in 1997 in Yala, Thailand. Of the previous 10 finals of the biennial competition, Japan had reigned supreme for 8 times including the last two in 2017 in Chongqing, China and 2018 in Nakhon Pathom, where they swept China in both finals.

The Monday’s showdown will be a mighty clash of the two teams with the Asian titles to their names. Since the tournament’s inception in 1997, Japan and China became the only two teams to stamp their domination over this age group championship, with the former taking 8 titles and the latter 4. The 13th edition in 2020 was initially due to take place in Nakhon Pathom, but was cancelled due to grave concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic.

Earlier, China pulled off huge shock to defeat unbeaten Korea with a magnificent comeback 3-1 (25-27, 25-16, 25-10, 25-23) in the other semifinal clash.

As Japan will face off with old foes China, the team they had already beaten in convincing straight sets in the preliminary Pool B clash, in the final showdown, Thailand will also renew their rivalry with Korea, the team they went down in straight sets in the pool plays earlier, in the third-place playoff to fight for bronze medal.

Meanwhile, the classification round for 5th-8th places saw Chinese Taipei shut out Uzbekistan 3-1 (25-19, 25-23, 18-25, 25-15) to next fight for the 5th place against Kazakhstan.

The fast-improving Kazakhs fought hard bravely against Iran to overpower the opponents in thrilling straight sets 25-23, 25-18, 25-21.

Following the dramatic win, Chinese Taipei set up a rematch with Kazakhstan, the team they had beaten 3-1 in the pool plays, in the Monday’s 5th-6th place playoff, while Uzbekistan and Iran will battle it out for 7th position.

Chinese Taipei head coach Chen Mei-Ching commented after the match, “Uzbekistan did well today. They were far beyond our expectations. We made too many mistakes on the “small ball.” After the two-day rest, three of our key players – Hsu Fang-Min, Lin Liang-Tai and Lee Ssu-yi  joined us with good recovery, leading the team to today’s victory.”

In the 11th place playoff earlier, Philippines saw off Australia in closely-contested three-setter 25-20, 25-19, 31-29.  Australia completed their campaign in this top-tier championship to return with the 11th position, a far cry from the 9th place they had achieved at the previous edition in 2018.

The impressive win allowed the Philippines another chance to play their last match in this eight-day championship as they will next fight it out with India for the 9th place on Monday, the last day of the tournament.

MATCH RESULTS

MATCH SCHEDULE

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