Manila, Philippines, August 17, 2017 – Japan stamped their supremacy over the SMM 19th Asian Senior Women’s Volleyball Championship for fourth time in history after coming from the first two-set down 26-28 20-25 to overpower Thailand in the remaining three sets 25-16 25-16 15-7 in the final showdown at the Alonte Sports Arena on Thursday.
The win stretched the Japan’s invincibility over Thailand to four in a row including two in 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 aimed higher to win their third Asian crown in a four-year time, heading the final showdown on high note with a stunning straight-set win over the Incheon Asian Games winners Korea in the semi-finals.
Against the tough rivals, Thailand fielded a similar strong line-up which beat the Koreans the previous match spearheaded by veteran Pleumjit Thinkaow and highly-skilled setter Nootsara Tomkom. Japan were also strong with the likes of hard-attacking Risa Shinnabe and Rika Nomoto.
In the first set, Thailand made a dismal start to trail Japan 2-6, but gradually clawed their ways back. With Ajcharaporn Kongyot, Pimpichaya Kokram and Chatchu-on Moksri methodically tearing the Japan defence into shreds, Thailand caught fire to catch up with the formidable rivals at 15-15 and from then, both sides traded attack points. The final assault was very thrilling in a see-saw battle. Thailand fared better to win the heart-pounding set 28-26.
Holding a 1-0 advantage, Thailand shone through their exceptional form in the second set. As Ajcharaporn and Chatchu-on uncorked a series of devastating attacks, Japan’s nerves began to fray in the middle of the set when they played an errors-riddled game. Taking a commanding 15-7 lead, Thailand continued their remarkable run to win the set 25-20 for a commanding 2-0 lead.
The third and fourth sets turned out to be lop-sided affairs when Japan regained their composure and hit back mightily to win comfortably 25-16 25-16.
In the tie-breaker, Japan played with determination and consistency to win the deciding set 15-7 and the championship, fourth time in history. Japan have already captured the Asian title for three times in 1975 in Melbourne, Australia, 1983 in Fukuoka, Japan and 2007 in Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand.
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