Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand, July 25, 2016 – Devastating Japan and in-form Korea brushed off their unfancied rivals to top Pool C and Pool D respectively at the SMM 18th Asian Women’s U19 Volleyball Championship at the Nakhon Ratchasima Rajabhat University Gymnasium on Monday.
Japan, former five-time champions and silver medallists at the previous edition in Chinese Taipei two years ago, spent only 48 minutes in sending underdogs Macao packing in a totally one-sided clash in Pool C.
In their last group round-robin preliminaries on Monday, formidable Japan, which have yet lost a set to their respective rivals, rested their best players including Reina Tokoku, Huruka Sekiyama and Tamaki Matsui and instead fielded several substitutions including Miyuki Horie and Nanami Seki.
Though attempting to challenge the much stronger Japanese, Macao proved no match against the well-established team. Japan demonstrated their excellent teamwork and combination attacks, allowing the inexperienced rivals only 14 points throughout the easy match before winning 25-5 25-5 25-4.
Miyuki Horie scored a team-high 17 points including 11 kills from 17 attempts. Ruriko Uesaka produced well-placed serves with 7 aces for Japan. Miyuki Horie added another 6 points on ace serves. Wong Chi Man top scored with 3 points for Macao including 2 on attacks.
“It was an expected win. We played more comfortably in this match. Macao are not that strong and that’s why we replaced our best players with substitutions. I just needed them to gain more experience and exposure,” commented Japanese head coach Abo Kiyoshi after the match.
“We next take on Vietnam and Thailand. Both teams are strong, but playing Thailand will be much tougher as a large number of their home crowds will be there supporting them all the way. However, we just have nowhere to go but up. Our top priority is we have to beat every team to make sure we will be in the final,” he added.
In the other Pool C match, India mounted a strong challenge against Iran to put it past the fighting opponents in pulsating straight sets. Iran remained in their similar line-up which pulled off a three-set win over Macao the previous day including the 194cm-tall Fatemeh Solgi and powerful hitter Hananeh Karami, while Vala Kinjalben became the India’s mainstay.
India, which succumbed 12-25 12-25 12-25 to Asia powerhouses Japan the previous day, came much stronger this time in a hard-fought match against the Iranians. Winning the first two sets 25-20 25-19 had increasingly boosted the India’s confidence. Iran tightened their defence and hit back with some good attacks, but India rolled on their rhythm to capture the closely-contested set 25-21 and match.
With three wins in a row, Japan led Pool C with 9 points, while India came in second place with 6 points from two wins against one loss. Iran finished third place with 3 points from one win against two losses. Winless Macao were in fourth place without any point.
Meanwhile, Korea ended their preliminary Pool D matches with a bang on Monday following a scintillating straight-set win over Australia.
Korea came up with an incredible speed and lightning-fast attacks which could not easily be overcome by the Aussies. Going down 6-25 8-25 in a battle which turned out to be one-sided, Australia struck back in the third set to come close at 9-12. However, Korea still had enough to hold them off to win the thrilling set 25-15 and match.
Yoo Seoyeun led Korea with 14 points including 11 kills from 17 attempts. Ji Minkyeoong and Kim Juhyang added 7 apiece on attacks. Holly Mallet top scored with 4 points for Australia.
Earlier, Chinese Taipei proved an impossible nut to crack for the Philippines, powering past the rivals in an easy battle 25-13 25-8 25-10. Chinese Taipei snatched the first set 25-13, thanks to Chiu Ya-Hui’s sharp cross-court attacks and solid blocks by Huang Cheng-Yu and Chen Yu-Chieh. Philippines held their nerves to stage a fightback, but their determination did not work out well. Chinese Taipei continued their fine form to easily wrap up the remaining sets 25-8 25-10 and match.
Huang Cheng-Yu led Chinese Taipei with 13 points consisting of 7 on blocks and 3 on ace serves. Huang Ching-Hsuan added 6 on attacks and 3 aces. Jasmine Nabor scored the highest 8 points for the Philippines.
At the end of the preliminary matches on Monday, Korea captured the Pool D top spot with 9 points from three straight victories, while Chinese Taipei came in second place after collecting 6 points from two wins against one loss. The Philippines finished third in the pool with two points from one win against two losses, with winless Australia in fourth position with 1 point.
Tuesday will be the rest day. The competition will resume on Wednesday with top two teams from Pool A, B, C and D advancing to contest the last eight teams in Pool E and F. The next two less-ranked teams will be relegated to 9th-15th classification round to compete in Pool G and H.
GROUP ROUND-ROBIN PRELIMINARIES
JULY 25, 2016
At Nakhon Ratchasima Rajabhat University
India b Iran 3-0 (25-20 25-19 25-21)
Japan b Macao 3-0 (25-5 25-5 25-4)
Chinese Taipei b Philippines 3-0 (25-13 25-8 25-10)
Korea b Australia 3-0 (25-6 25-8 25-15)