Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand, July 27, 2016 – Formidable Japan breezed past Vietnam in a completely lop-sided battle, as title-hotshots China, hosts Thailand and embattled Korea continued their unbeaten streak in the top-eight playoffs at the SMM 18th Asian Women’s U19 Volleyball Championship at The Mall Nakhon Ratchasima’s MCC Hall on Wednesday.
Japan, silver medalists at the previous edition two years ago in Chinese Taipei, spent only 59 minutes in ousting Vietnam 25-11, 25-13, 25-11 in Pool E. Ai Kurogo scored a match-high 11 points including 10 kills from 15 attempts to steer Japan to the straight-set win over Vietnam, delighting around 20 Japanese fans on-site in support for their players.
Former five-time champions Japan are now due to battle it out against hosts Thailand in the Thursday’s encounter to determine the Pool E winners as both sides have yet lost a match to their respective rivals since the opening match in their group round-robin preliminaries. Vietnam will face India for a better position in the pool.
Japan’s captain Tamaki Matsui said after the match: “We fight for ever ball in every match. Today we played much better in the closing moments. Against Thailand tomorrow (Thursday), we knew Thailand are good at both attacking and blocking. Therefore, we have to prepare ourselves to do our best.”
Japan’s head coach Abo Kiyoshi commented after the match: “I am not generally satisfied with the result of the match. We should have played better than this. I used my bench players too and still, I am not satisfied with them. Thailand are one of the great teams in the tournament and we must play much better.”
The match between Thailand and India saw the former overcome their sluggish start to cruise past the latter in dramatic three sets. Young Chutchu-on Moksri, 17, pumped her fist to collect 14 crucial points for Thailand as the host side struggled to beat India in three sets 25-23, 25-15,25-12 in front of a rapturous home crowds inside the MCC Hall. Rai Ananya top scored with 7 points for India, all of them through powerful hits.
Thailand head coach Chamnan Dokmai said: “The reason why we edged past our rivals in the first set and we came within a whisker of losing the set is just because my players did not have enough warm-up before the match. After the first set, everything got better. I asked my players to win no matter what the tactics would be. Against Japan Tomorrow (on Thursday), it would be one of our tough matches in the tournament. We used to play Japan before. Their setter is very smart and the Japanese are very quick, hard to deal with. We will try our best anyway”.
In the Pool F encounters, title-holders China had a little problems in brushing off Chinese Taipei in comfortable straight sets 25-14, 25-18, 25-9, highlighting the spectacular spikes from Wu Han and Qian Jingwen who is 186 cm tall. However, Wu Han emerged as the best scorer with 18 points.
Chinese Taipei tried to make a comeback at the second set, hoping to bring their form back on track, but their attempts were in vain. Their performance in the third set was also not that good, allowing the much stronger Chinese several scoring opportunities. China remain undefeated and are due to face a daunting task on Thursday as they will go up against Korea.
Qian Jingwen, a No. 4 player of China, said: “All participating teams are here to gain experience. We also learned so much from matches here. In the next match against Korea, we have faced Korea twice before and their reception was good beyond expectation. We have to prepare ourselves to face the challenge in any situation.”
Korea recovered from the first-set down 22-25 to capture the remaining three sets 25-15, 25-10, 25-8. Kim Juhyang tallied 15 points for Korea including 10 on spikes and four on blocks. Ji Minkyeong added 10 points on attacks, with Ko Minji assisting with another 10 points from deadly spikes.
Meanwhile, at the Nakhon Ratchasima Rajabhat University Gymnasium, the competition venue for seven less-ranked teams contesting the 9th-15th playoffs, Macao were on cloud nine on Wednesday as they snatched their first victory in the 18th edition by outclassing Sri Lanka in straight sets 25-2125-20 25-13.
Law Wenng Sam top scored with 18 points for Macao including 15 attacks from 30 attempts, while Chamali Karunarathina led Sri Lanka with 8 points.
The second match saw Australia upset Hong Kong in impressive straight sets 25-19 25-21 25-18. Katie Gardner emerged as the top scorer for Australia after winning 10 points, 9 of them through attack hits. Tam Hin Ching Rachel tallied 9 points for Hong Kong.
In the last match of the day, the Philippines pulled off a convincing 25-15 25-14 25-19 victory over New Zealand. Vilareal Jeanette Virgina scored a match-high 13 points for Philippines, with Emma Mabbott handing New Zealand crucial 8 points including 6 on attacks.
The playoffs continue on Thursday at both venues, with the 1st-9th playoffs being held at the MCC Hall and the 9th-15th playoffs taking place at the Nakhon Ratchasima Rajabhat University.
At MCC Hall
Japan b Vietnam 3-0 (25-11 25-13 25-11)
Thailand b India 3-0 (25-23 25-15 25-12)
China b Chinese Taipei 3-0 (25-14 25-18 25-9)
Korea b Kazakhstan 3-1 (22-25 25-15 25-10 25-8)
At Nakhon Ratchasima Rajabhat University
Macao b Sri Lanka 3-0 (25-21 25-20 25-13)
Australia b Hong Kong 3-0 (25-19 25-21 25-18)
Philippines b New Zealand (25-15 25-14 25-19)
THURSDAY, JUNE 28, 2016
At MCC Hall
11.30am: Vietnam v India
2pm: Kazakhstan v Chinese Taipei
4pm: Thailand v Japan
6pm: China v Korea
At Nakhon Ratchasima Rajabhat University Gymnasium
2pm: Sri Lanka v Iran
4pm: New Zealand v Australia
6pm: Hong Kong v Philippines