Manila, Philippines, August 17, 2017 – Japan underlined their supremacy over the SMM 19th Asian Senior Women’s Volleyball Championship after an incredible come-from-behind 3-2 (26-28 20-25 25-16 25-16 15-7) victory over Thailand in the final showdown at the Alonte Sports Arena on Thursday.
Japan have already captured the Asian title for three times in 1975 in Melbourne, Australia, 1983 at home in Fukuoka, and 2007 in Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand. The Japanese were on cloud nine on Thursday as they sealed their fourth Asian Senior Women’s crown with remarkable unbeaten record aside from helping make Japan a clean sweep of both men’s and women’s events contested this year. The Asian Senior Men’s Championship ended on August 1 in Surabaya, Indonesia, with Japan powering past Kazakhstan in the final clash to reign supreme.
The Thursday’s win stretched the Japan’s invincibility over Thailand to four in a row including two at the recent World Grand Prix. In this top-tier competition earlier, Thailand went down to the same rivals in the top 8 playoff match.
Thailand, which have already won the Asian title twice in 2009 in Hanoi, Vietnam and in 2013 on their home soil in Nakhon Ratchasima, also had their sights firmly set on their third Asian crown, heading the final showdown on high note with a stunning straight-set win over the Incheon Asian Games winners Korea in the semi-finals.
“I’m very happy that we eventually won. It was a very tough match against Thailand. They performed exceptionally well in the first two sets. We tried to read their tactics and play our game. Fortunately, we came back fast in the third set. After winning that set, my players started confidently in the following sets and when Thailand made too many mistakes, we then had a chance. However, despite the victory, I think Thailand are coming very strong this time with their young, potential players,” Japan head coach Kumi Nakada said in an interview through a translator after the awards presentation and closing ceremony.
At the previous Asian meet two years ago, Japan, sending second-string to the top-tier competition, left Tianjin, China with their heads low in disappointment after a sixth-place finish out there.
Earlier, Korea had to be content with the bronze medal after venting out their frustration on dethroned champion China 25-11, 25-18, 25-20. China, defending and 13-time Asian winners, sent a strong squad of young bloods this time, said China head coach Bao Zhuang, because their national players and famous Chinese spikers are preparing for the 13th China National Games later this month.
Korea have never won the Asian title since they made their debut appearance at the inaugural Asian Championship in Melbourne, Australia in 1975. They have entered seven finals, but lost them all. This included the 2015 edition in Tianjin, where they went down to hosts China in the showdown.
“We are disappointed with the loss to Thailand in the semi-finals on Wednesday, but we are happy that we beat China for the bronze medal. Actually, we had a tight schedule before competing in this championship. We contested the World Grand Prix ahead of coming to Manila and there are so many young players in our team. One key player in our team also got a back injury. I think the young players in our team learned a lot from this tournament. After this, we will train more for the World Championship Qualification in Thailand and hope to do our best there,” Kim Yeon Koung said in an interview.
Vietnam maintained their fifth position achieved in Tianjin two years ago after cruising past Chinese Taipei 25-23 25-22 25-23 in the 5th-6th playoff, while Kazakhstan also returned with the similar seventh place they finished in Tianjin. The Kazakh side struggled to beat hosts Philippines in hard-fought five-setter 25-20 25-16 21-25 21-25 15-3 in the 7th-8th playoff encounter.
THURSDAY’S FINAL RESULTS
At the Alonte Sports Arena
7th-8th: Kazakhstan b Philippines 3-2 (25-20 25-16 21-25 21-25 15-3)
5th-6th: Vietnam b Chinese Taipei 3-0 (25-23 25-22 25-23)
Bronze-medal match: Korea b China 3-0 (25-11 25-18 25-20)
Championship match: Japan b Thailand 3-2 (26-28 20-25 25-16 25-16 15-7)
6. Chinese Taipei
11. Hong Kong
12. New Zealand
13. Sri Lanka
First Best Outside Spiker: Kim Yeon Koung (Korea No.10)
Second Best Outside Spiker: Chatchu-on Moksri (Thailand No.19)
First Best Middle Blocker: Hattaya Bamrungsuk (Thailand No.7)
Second Best Middle Blocker: Nana Iwasaka (Japan No.3)
Best Opposite Spiker: Jin Ye (China No.9)
Best Setter: Nootsara Tomkom (Thailand No.13)
First Best Libero: Mako Kobata (Japan No.29)
Second Best Libero: Dawn Nicole Macandili (Philippines No.15)
Most Valuable Player: Risa Shinnabe (Jaan No.4)
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