Vinh Phuc, Vietnam, September 20, 2016 – Powerhouses China underlined their supremacy over the “SMM” 5th AVC Cup for Women after demolishing Kazakhstan 25-19 25-19 25-13 in a pulsating final showdown at the Vinh Phuc Gymnasium here on Tuesday.
The scintillating win not only was a sweet revenge for the disappointing 2-3 loss to Kazakhstan in their pool preliminaries earlier but also stretched the China’s domination in the biennial top-flight tournament to four times. China captured their debut AVC Cup title in Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand in 2008 and repeated the feat two years later at home in Taicang. The Chinese lost their title to Thailand in the 2012 edition in Almaty, Kazakhstan and reclaimed their crown in 2014 on home soil in Shenzhen.
Against the up-and-coming Kazakhstan, successive two-time bronze medallists, China fielded a formidable line-up led by the 193cm-tall Zhang Changing and Gong Xiaoyu, both of whom competed in the gold-winning China team at the last month’s Rio Olympic Games. Also strengthening the indomitable giants were powerful attacker Li Jing, Yang Zhou and Zheng Yixin, while Kazakhstan sent strong starters led by ace spiker Katerina Tatko, Yekaterina Zhdanova and Kristina Anikonova.
Young Gong Xiaoyu, 19, scored a match-high 21 points including 16 kills from 36 attempts for China. Zhang Changning added with 10 kill blocks. Yao Di contributed with 3 ace serves. Katerina Tatko led Kazakhstan with 6 points, all of them from her devastating spikes.
“I would like to thank all of my players as they did a very good job today in the final match. Kazakhstan tried hard to attack us, but they just came up with unforced mistakes to lose easy points. Our players played according to the strategic plan and they followed what staff coaches at the bench had instructed them. I’m happy with the win. Everyone in my team made us proud,” said China’s assistant coach Bao Zhuang on behalf of head coach Chen Youquan.
The third-place playoff earlier saw in-form Thailand put it past fighting Japan in comfortable straight sets 25-22 25-16 25-17 to claim consolation bronze medal at the week-long competition.
The convincing win over the Japanese youngsters was a sweet revenge for the Thailand’s bitter loss at the hands of the full-fledged Japan national team at this year’s FIVB World Grand Prix and at the World Olympic Qualification Tournament. It was also a successful comeback for Thailand in the AVC Cup after they had a disappointing outing at the previous edition two years ago in Shenzhen, China, where Thailand, represented by their U23 team, finished a distant 5th place.
Wilavan Apinyapong led Thailand with 13 points including 11 kills. Pimpichaya Kokram added 11 points from her deadly attacks. Pleumjit Thinkaow contributed with 3 solid blocks, while Ajcharaporn Kongyot carried out 3 ace serves. Arisa Inoue collected 12 points for Japan including 10 kills from 31 attempts.
“It’s a good match against the Japanese. We learn how to play a team with a rock solid defence like Japan. The key for our win today is our great serves and blocks. In this match, I sent in young setter Tichaya (Boonlert) to gain experience and she performed well beyond our expectation. However, in terms of our serves, we need more improvement because in the world-level competitions, we have to serve effectively and efficiently, much better than here in Vinh Phuc. Our combination among players should also be better than this,” Thailand’s head coach Danai Sriwacharamethakul commented.
Meanwhile, Chinese Taipei powered past Iran 3-1 ( 25-21 25-21 23-25 25-22) in the 5th-6th place playoff.
Wu Wei-Hua scored a team-high 16 points for Chinese Taipei including 15 kills from 48 attempts. Chang Chen-Yin contributed with 14 kills. Soudabeh Bagherpour top scored with 13 points for Iran.
With the hard-fought 3-1 win, Chinese Taipei took the fifth place at the 5th AVC Cup for Women, their best finish ever in the biennial tournament, while Iran also had something to be proud of as they returned with the sixth position, also their best finish ever in the AVC Cup.
Vietnam delighted home fans with an exhausting five sets 25-17 25-27 23-25 25-18 15-8 win over young, inexperienced Korea to claim the seventh place at home, bettering their 8th-place finish at the previous edition two years ago in Shenzhen, China.
Meanwhile, Korea returned with heads low in disappointment after taking the 8th position, their worst performance since their inception in 2008 in Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand, where they finished second to China. They also picked up silver in Shenzhen.
7th-8th playoff: Vietnam b Korea 3-2 (25-17 25-27 23-25 25-18 15-8)
5th-6th playoff: Chinese Taipei b Iran 3-1 (25-21 25-21 23-25 25-22)
Bronze medal match: Thailand b Japan 3-0 (25-22 25-16 25-17)
Championship match: China b Kazakhstan 3-0 (25-19 25-19 25-13)
5. Chinese Taipei
BEST SETTER: Irina Lukomskaya (No.9 Kazakhstan)
BEST LIBERO: Piyanut Pannoy (No.2 Thailand)
BEST OUTSIDE SPIKERS
1. Li Jing (No.5 China)
2. Ajcharaporn Kongyot (No.18 Thailand)
BEST MIDDLE BLOCKERS
1. Kristina Anikonova (No.18 Kazakhstan)
2. Yang Zhou (No.6 China)
BEST OPPOSITE SPIKER: Yekaterina Zhdanova (No.4 Kazakhstan)
MVP: Li Jing (No.5 China)