Nakhon Ratchasima,Thailand, July 23, 2016 – Japan, India, Chinese Taipei and Korea brushed aside their respective rivals to seal first wins at the SMM 18th Asian Women’s U19 Volleyball Championship at the Nakhon Ratchasima Rajabhat University Gymnasium on Saturday.Japan, former five-time Asian U19 champions and silver medallists at the previous edition two years ago in Chinese Taipei, got off to a brilliant start in the top-flight tournament to power past Iran in a completely one-sided encounter 25-7 25-10 25-11.
Reina Tokoku, Ai Kurogo and Ruriko Uesaka were the Japan’s key weapons in this match. After winning the first two sets effortlessly 25-7 25-10, Japan stormed on to win the easy third set 25-11 and match.
As expected, Reina Tokoku scored a match-high 19 points for Japan including 17 kills from 29 attempts. Ai Kurogo added 6 on attacks and Ruriko Uesaka 5 on ace serves. Fatemeh Solgi, who stands 194cm tall, led Iran with 6 points.
After the match, Japanese head coach Abo Kiyoshi expressed satisfaction over his team’s first victory in the tournament. “I’m glad that we won our first match in the tournament. I think we started well with a straight-set win. I We are much stronger than Iran. We trained intensively for one month in preparation for this tournament. There are many strong teams this time, but I hope that my team will make it to the semi-finals.
“The other teams likely to advance to the semi-finals include hosts Thailand, Korea and China. China are one of the strongest to be reckoned with this time. We lost to the Chinese in the final round in the previous edition. This time, I hope that my team will have a good run in the tournament. If possible, I wish my team won the title,” he added.
Asked about Reina Tokoku and Fuyumi Hawi Okumu, two Japanese players whose looks are much different from the rest, coach Abo said, “Both of them are newcomers. As Tokoku is half-Japanese, half-Kenyan, Hawi is half-Japanese, half-Ghanian. They are key players of the team.”
Earlier, in-form India pulled off a comfortable straight-set 25-5 25-18 25-7 victory over pint-sized Macao in a lop-sided match. India dominated the whole game with their attacks from Vala Kinjalben, while Macao suffered on poor reception and were frustrated by India’s powerful jump serves by Ananya Rai and attacks from Vala Kinjalben and Soorya.
Among three sets contested, Macao played well in the second set when India became prone with unforced attacking mistakes in the middle of the set. However, they recovered shortly after and bounced back to win the set. Macau proved no match against the much stronger Indians in the first and third sets.
Vala Kinjalben tallied 12 points for India, while Vu Ut Mio led Macao with only three points including two on attacks.
Meanwhile, the third encounter between Chinese Taipei and Australia saw the former field more individual talents in their team. After snatching the first set without much difficulty 25-14, the Taiwanese girls struggled briefly in the second set when spirited Australia hit back with good attacks from Katie Gardner and Brooke Freckleton to catch up with the well-organised rivals 10-10.
However, Australia lost their touch after that, allowing the Taiwanese several scoring opportunities. Chinese Taipei went on their great show to win the second set 25-12.
The third set turned out to be a totally one-sided battle as Chinese Taipei started strongly to lead 16-7, thanks to thundering attacks from Chen Yu-Chieh and Chiu Ya-Hui. Australia put their acts together, hoping for a comeback. However, Chinese Taipei foiled their attempts. As Huang Man-Ya scored a crucial point for Chinese Taipei’s commanding 24-8 lead, needing only one more point to wrap up the set and match, Australia fought hard with all they had. Their more determination briefly bore fruit as the Aussies saved three match-points before Chiu Ya-Hui attacked devastatingly to help Chinese Taipei win the set 25-12.
Chiu Ya-Hui led Chinese Taipei with 16 points including 11 kills from 21 attempts. Chen Yu-Chieh added 12 points on attacks and Huang Ching-Hsuan five on ace serves. Tan Yasmin top scored with seven points for Australia.
In the day’s last match at Nakhon Ratchasima Rajabhat University Gymnasium, indomitable Korea proved a class above the Philippines to outclass the fighting rivals in pulsating straight sets 25-17 25-14 25-17.
Though putting on a a brave fight, the Philippines found Korea too strong. Going down in the first two sets 17-25 14-25, the Filipinas tried to make amends in the third set, which they chased from trailing 1-7, 6-17 to come near 15-22. Korean head coach Park Giju called a timeout to improve their performance. Korea’s efforts paid off impressively when they captured the third set 25-17 and match.
The group round-robin preliminaries continue through 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. However, for live broadcast reason, the Pool D match between Korea and Chinese Taipei on Sunday will be switched with the Pool A encounter between Sri Lanka and Vietnam to be held at The Mall Nakhon Ratchasima’s MCC Hall.
Group round-robin preliminaries at Nakhon Ratchasima Rajabhat University Gymnasium
India b Macao 3-0 (25-5 25-18 25-7)
Japan b Iran 3-0 (25-7 25-10 25-11)
Chinese Taipei b Australia 3-0 (25-14 25-12 25-12)
Korea b Philippines 3-0 (25-17 25-14 25-17)
at Nakhon Ratchasima Rajabhat University
SUNDAY, JULY 24
12pm: India v Japan
2pm: Macau v Iran
4pm: Sri Lanka v Vietnam
6pm: Philippines v Australia