Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand, May 20, 2017 – Formidable Japan struggled to beat spirited Chinese Taipei in dramatic four sets 25-18 27-29 25-22 25-10 in the semi-finals of the SMM 2nd Asian Women’s U23 Volleyball Championship at The Mall Nakhon Ratchasima’s MCC Hall on Saturday to set up a final showdown with hosts Thailand.
Japan, the only team yet to lose a set to their respective rivals en route to the Saturday’s semi-finals, shone through their exceptional tactics including deadly attacks from Hikari Kato, Misaki Yamauchi and Nanaka Sakamoto and splendid teamwork. However, a fearless fightback from Chinese Taipei became a serious threat to the Japanese, who went down in the hotly-contested second set to the determined opponents.
Misaki Yamauchi scored a team-high 21 points including 18 kills from 38 attempts. Hikari Kato and Sakamoto added 18 and 16 points respectively, with Ayaka Sugi having 5 kill blocks. Chen Tzu-Ya led Chinese Taipei with 15 points including 12 kills from 44 attempts.
After the match, Japan’s head coach Kiyoshi Abo commented, “It’s a tough match indeed. My team members are mentally tired. We lost the second set because my players made too many mistakes, especially on serves and attacks. We next play Thailand in the final showdown. They are one of the strong teams to be reckoned with, but more importantly they are playing on their home soil and a big crowd of their fans are supporting them all the way. We have to be patient in that situation. Our chance of beating Thailand is just 50-50, but we will do our best.”
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