Chongqing, China, March 4, 2017 – Powerhouses Japan, China and Korea kicked the “SMM” 11th Asian Girls’ U18 Volleyball Championship off to a brilliant start with comfortable wins over their respective rivals on Sunday.
Japan b New Zealand 3-0 (25-7, 25-5, 25-9)
The opening match was totally one-sided, seeing efending and successive five-time champions Japan smash New Zealand a 3-0 (25-7, 25-5, 25-9) in 49 minutes.
In the first set, New Zealand were unable to score a point until Japan had thrown them far away behind 11-0. They could only sneak some points from Japan’s errors. Japan quickly finished the first set 25-7 after a spike by Ayaka Araki.
The second set was even easier for Japan. The six-time champions gave their opponents only five points to seal the set 25-5.
With such a big advantage, Japan sent all the substitutes to the court in the third set and they still did quite well in a consistent way. An ace serve by captain Mayu Ishikawa ended the set 25-9 in favour of the Japanese.
Mayu was the best scorer in the match with nine points from 23 attempts in only two sets, while Phoenix Paniora contributed the highest scores to New Zealand with only three points.
“Although the girls are little bit nervous, it’s a very good start.” said Mr. Daichi Saegusa, head coach of Japan.
“Japan are amazing. They came out extremely well,” said Sam Ryburn, head coach of New Zealand.
“We really didn’t make any technique adjustment. It’s more of the girl having a little more faith on themselves and they came out a lot stronger. As they got more points, they got more and more excited which was good. So it’s more of them changing how they felt. It was good. ” he mentioned about the team’s better performance in the third set.
China b Iran 3-0 (25-14, 25-6, 25-12)
Iran started the match with an aggressive way as they always had a high-volume cheering whenever they scored a point. China slowly adapted themselves to the match and they even fell one point behind at the first technical timeout. Triggered by the destructive serves from Xu Luyao, China bounced back and raised a 9-2 wave to Iran, marking a 16-10 lead at the second technical timeout. Facing the big pressure opposed by China, Iran came into some disorder. They called a timeout at 10-18 behind, but that could only delay China a little while to conclude the set in 25-14.
The second set witnessed a 7-0 in a row by China in the beginning thanks again to the aggressive serves by Xu Luyao. Iran called a timeout at 6-20 but their attempts were in vain. China did not stint their fires on Iran and another 5-0 wave shut the set in 25-6.
Xu Luyao undoubtedly became the best scorer with 15 points.
“We just try to make this team stronger through the first game, to see if we can adjust to this match. Our girls are too young and they have almost no experience about this kind of international competition. ” said Mr. Xu Jiande, head coach of China. “All the girls tried their best. They are all good. ”
“I think the girls are a little bit nervous.” he explained what’s happening in the first set. “To win the championship is our ultimate goal. We don’t know the other teams well, but Japan are a strong team because they have consecutively won the championship for several years.”
“We make selection for this team three months ago. This team are very young and we trained together. But from selection till now, it only had three months and half. This is very little time but I have to say that some of my players only have training one time a week. They never play any tournaments, any international match. We just play some friendship match. Putting all these together, I think they are very good. China are very good. I hope this team will be much better in future. I can see they are very young too. They have very good selection and they are very good team. China won the Olympics, so what can I say? But for my team, I have to say that I am very satisfied. I see their growing.” said Majda Cicic, head coach of Iran.
“ They are one team. I have to say all the players are very good.” She added.
Korea b Uzbekistan 3-0 (25-15, 25-8, 25-7)
Similar to team China, Korea also had a slow start while Uzbekistan caught up with them closely. The head coach of Korea yelled to her players several times and awakened them. Following a 25-15 win in the first set, Korea played better and better and quickly took the second and the third sets 25-8 and 25-7.
“This is the first game and it was a little bit hard. This place is very fantastic and I like it. ” said Olga Isaenok,head coach of Uzbekistan, “We haven’t seen all the teams yet but I think China are the strong team.”
“We just want to show the world how we can play.” She added.
“I just saw their training. I think they are strong too, although they are not very high. They are good players. ” She commented their opponent, Chinese Taipei in the next match.
“Most of the players participate in this championship for the first time, so they got a little bit worried and nervous in the beginning. ” said Cho Wanki, head coach of Korea.
“We have played with Chinese Taipei many times. We have known them very well. So I think there will be a good match tomorrow. ” He added.
The SMM 11th Asian Girls’ U18 Volleyball Championship will continue at the Chongqing No. 8 Secondary School Yubei Campus till March 13. The best four teams will qualify to the 2017 FIVB Girls U18 World Championship, which is due to take place in Argentina from August 18 to 27, 2017.