Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand, May 11, 2017 – All is set for the SMM 2nd Asian Women’s U23 Volleyball Championship from May 13 to 21 at The Mall Nakhon Ratchasima’s MCC Hall, with 13 teams vying for the top two teams to test their mettle at the 2017 FIVB Volleyball Women’s U23 World Championship in Slovenia between September 10 and 17.
Hosts Thailand, silver medallists at the previous edition in the Philippines two years ago, Macao and Hong Kong have been drawn in Pool A, with Japan, Vietnam and Uzbekistan in Pool B. Chinese Taipei, Kazakhstan, Australia and Sri Lanka are in Pool C, while Pool D comprises Iran, Malaysia and New Zealand.
Title-holders and current world No.4 China did not take part in this championship, reportedly citing that the Chinese players are committed to intensive training with their own clubs in preparation for the quadrennial National Games of China, known as the All China Games. Korea, bronze medallists at the previous edition, also did not send their team to the 2017 championship in Thailand, claiming that they have to prepare their players for the Universiade in Chinese Taipei, the World Grand Prix and the World Championship Asian Qualification.
With the absence of powerhouses China and Korea, the window for opportunity is open to all participating teams. However, hosts Thailand and Japan have been tipped to emerge as the top two teams to battle it out for the eventual crown.
A total of 13 teams will compete in the pool round-robin preliminaries from May 13 to 15. Only top two teams from each pool will advance to the playoff matches in the round of the last eight teams, while teams finishing third and fourth places will be relegated to the 9th-13th classification round. The quarter-finals will be held on Friday, May 19 to decide the four winning teams in the semi-finals. The championship will come to a conclusion on Sunday, May 21.
All participating teams have already arrived in Nakhon Ratchasima on Thursday and started training at the competition venue MCC Hall within The Mall Nakhon Ratchasima Shopping Centre. However, the competition-related activities are in full swing, with the joint meeting between the Control Committee and the local organisers being held to check the readiness towards hosting the top-flight tournament and asked if everything is on the right track.
The final inspection to the competition site as well as the referee & VIS Clinic will be held on Friday. The General Technical Meeting will take place later in the evening, followed by the welcome dinner and opening ceremony at the Sima Thani Grand Ballroom.
The SMM 2nd Asian Women’s U23 Championship will kick off on Saturday at The Mall Nakhon Ratchasima’s MCC Hall, with Chinese Taipei and Sri Lanka setting up the curtain-raisers. The other encounters see Malaysia take on Sri Lanka, Kazakhstan challenge Australia, Thailand play Hong Kong and Vietnam are pitted against Uzbekistan
In the previous edition in the Philippines two years ago, China were crowned the eventual champions after pulling off a 3-1 victory over Thailand. Korea finished third, with Japan in fourth position.
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