Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand, May 21, 2017 – Formidable Japan produced a fantastic comeback 3-2 (20-25 16-25 25-19 27-25 15-12) victory over determined Thailand in the hard-fought final showdown to underline their supremacy over the SMM 2nd Asian Women’s U23 Volleyball Championship at the packed The Mall Nakhon Ratchasima’s MCC Hall on Sunday.
Both Thailand and Japan have already clinched two slots to contest the 2017 FIVB Volleyball Women’s U23 World Championship in Slovenia from September 10 to 17 following their Saturday’s wins in the semi-finals against Vietnam and Chinese Taipei respectively.
In the semi-final rematch of the previous edition in the Philippines two years ago, Thailand, which finished runners-up to eventual winners China in the 2015 edition, came up much stronger in the final clash, with over 3,500 home fans boosting their team’s morale.
World No.8 Thailand took the first two sets 25-20 25-16, thanks to their impenetrable defence and Ajcharaporn Kongyot’s deadly spikes. However, Japan, fourth place at both the Asian meet in 2015 and the World Championship in Turkey the same year, roared back to win the following two sets 25-19 27-25.
In the thrilling decider, Japan fared much better, refraining from making hasty unforced mistakes, captured the set 15-12 and the championship. For Japan, it was a sweet revenge against Thailand as the Thais beat them 3-2 in the semi-finals at the previous episode.
“It was a very difficult match as we expected. Thailand played extremely well in the first two sets while we made too many errors especially on our service. Thailand are very strong on their side-out attacks and they adapted well to our game plan. Then we tried to adapt our system in the next two sets by fielding our players from the bench to the court and they played very well. We trained together for two weeks before this championship. I am very happy that we finally won this tournament. For our preparation to the World Championship, in this match our players made a lot of mistakes, so we have to adjust and change something to our players before participating in the world meet,” Japan’s head coach Kiyoshi Abo commented after the match.
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