Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand, July 24, 2016 – In-form Japan continued their unbeaten streak at the SMM 18th Asian Women’s U19 Volleyball Championship, as the former five-time champions pulled off a scintillating straight-set 25-12 25-12 25-12 victory over India in their second Pool C match at the Nakhon Ratchasima Rajabhat University here on Sunday.
Japan remained in their formidable line-up led by Japanese-Kenyan Reina Tokoku, who steered the team to a convincing win over Iran with a match-high 19 points. Also strengthening the Japanese were hard-attacking Ruriko Uesaka and Ai Kurogo.
The Japan’s spectacular attacks and effective blocks played a vital role in their comfortable 25-12 win in the opening set. India pulled their game together with an aim of gaining the pride lost in the first set. However, Japan performed exceptionally to take the second set with the similar margin 25-12.
The third set was the similar script with Japan leading all the way. The Japanese-Ghanian Okumu Oba Fuyumi Hawi, whose father was cheering Japan at the grandstands and who replaced Tokoku since the second set, attacked powerfully to help Japan capture the set 25-12 and match.
Ruriko Uesaka top scored with 12 points for Japan including 10 kills from 17 attempts. Okumu Oba Fuyumi Hawi and Shiori Aratani added 9 points apiece on attacks. Soorya tallied with 6 points for India.
With two straight wins, Japan, silver medalists at the previous episode two years ago in Chinese Taipei, are assured of securing their berth to round of the last eight teams.
“We beat Iran the previous day and our second win over India is still on the right track as we try to win every match we play. India played well, but we were just stronger. Our last preliminary match will be against Macao on Monday. I think we should make a clean sweep in Pool C,” Japanese coach Abo Kiyoshi commented after the match.
“We have yet seen how China played, but we had watched Thailand beat Vietnam on Saturday. Thailand are one of the strong teams to be reckoned with in this tournament. We have to perform our best one at a time. Our target remains unchanged, that is we have to win the championship,” he added.
In the other Pool C encounter, Iran, which the previous day went down to Asia powerhouses Japan in straight sets, enjoyed their first victory on Sunday after thrashing underdogs Macao in comfortable straight sets 25-14 25-10 25-16.
Iran, fielding tall players whose height average is 182cm against the pint-sized rivals’ 166cm, got off to an impressive start in this match, with Hananeh Karami and Aytak Salamatgharam penetrating the Macao’s defence with their attacks. Iran took the effortless first set 25-14.
Macao, though much smaller, fought all-out. They regained composure to briefly come up with a better form in the second set before Iran made use of their height advantage to block effectively and attack aggressively to win the completely one-sided set 25-10.
Conceding two successive sets, Macao upped their tempo in the third set. However, their attempted fightback was in vain. Iran went on their fine attacks to capture the set 25-16 and match.
The 194cm-tall Fatemeh Solgi led Iran with 13 points including 7 on attacks and 4 on blocks, while Vu Ut Mio scored 9 points for Macao.
Meanwhile, the Nakhon Ratchasima Rajabhat University Gymnasium hosted the Pool A match between Vietnam and Sri Lanka in place of the Pool D encounter between Chinese Taipei and Korea for the live broadcast reason.
Vietnam, which succumbed 0-3 loss to hosts Thailand, revived their fortunes by mercilessly crushing minnows Sri Lanka in a totally lop-sided battle 25-8 25-6 25-10.
Vietnam, which finished second to hosts Thailand at the last week’s Asean Women’s U19 Championship in Si Sa Ket, proved too strong for Sri Lanka to dominate the whole match. Luu Thi Hue tore the Sri Lankan defence into shreds with her destructive attacks and great serves.
As expected, Luu Thi Hue scored a team-high 20 points including 9 points on attacks and 4 on blocks. She also led in service after producing seven aces. Pham Thi Nguyet Anh and Tran Viet Huong added 9 and 8 points respectively on attacks. Adikari Sachini Hansika led Sri Lanka with 4 points, all of them through her spikes.
The last match of the day at the Nakhon Ratchasima Rajabhat University saw Australia up against the Philippines to battle it out for their first win in the 15-team Asian competition. The Philippines struggled hard to beat gallant Australia 3-2 (15-25 25-21 25-20 23-25 15-11).
Australia came up with an improved form to win the easy first set 25-15 before the Filipinas bounced back to snatch the second set 25-21 for a 1-1 equaliser.
The Philippines surprised Australia with a comeback 25-20 win in the third set. The Filipinas were trailing 17-20 in the set, but just clawed their ways back to grab eight successive points for the 25-20 win.
Australia cliched the fourth set 25-23 to force the rivals for a deciding set. The Philippines fared better in the fifth set to win the tie-breaker 15-11 and gruelling match.
The group round-robin preliminaries will be concluded on Monday at two different venues, with teams in Pool A and Pool B competing at The Mall Nakhon Ratchasima’s MCC Hall and teams in Pool C and Pool D at the Nakhon Ratchasima Rajabhat University Gymnasium. At the end of the last preliminary match on Monday, all participating teams will be ranked according to their performances in each pool. Top two teams from each pool will next advance to the round of last eight teams to contest the round-robin Pool E and F, while the remaining less-ranked sides from each pool will be relegated to 9th-15th classification round in Pool G and H.
GROUP ROUND-ROBIN PRELIMINARIES
At Nakhon Ratchasima Rajabhat University
Japan b India 3-0 (25-12 25-12 25-12)
Iran b Macao 3-0 (25-14 25-10 25-16)
Vietnam b Sri Lanka 3-0 (25-8 25-6 25-10)
Philippines b Australia 3-2 (15-25 25-21 25-20 23-25 15-11)
Monday, July 25, 2016
12pm: Iran v India
2pm: Japan v Macao
4pm: Chinese Taipei v Philippines
6pm: Korea v Australia