Manila, Philippines, August 15, 2017 – Thailand set up semi-final thriller with unbeaten Korea as China’s young bloods play a rematch with formidable Japan in the SMM 19th Asian Senior Women’s Volleyball Championship at the Alonte Sports Arena on Wednesday.
Korea, chasing dreams of capturing the prestigious Asian crown for the first time in history in Manila, and former three-time Asian champions Japan remained invincible heading the do-or-die semi-finals, while in-form Thailand went down just once to world No.6 Japan and China, defending and 13-time Asian winners but sending a strong young squad this time, have already suffered two setbacks against Japan and Thailand.
The Thai squad are coming stronger this time with young talents ambitious to bring home the well-earned crown, a sweet dream expected to turn reality for the third time with the team in a four-year time. Thailand had captured their historic Asian title in 2009 in Hanoi, Vietnam and repeated the similar feat at home four years later in Nakhon Ratchasima. They finished third at the previous edition in Tianjin, China two yeas ago and are now in Manila, hoping that a patiently four-year waiting will bear fruits handsomely.
Against Philippines in the knockout quarter-finals on Tuesday, Thailand struggled in the opening set when the host side boosted by boisterous home fans performed exceptionally well, giving the strong visitors a sturdy challenge tactically and technically. However, with the greater experience and form, Thailand eventually powered past the up-and-coming Philippines in thrilling straight sets 25-21 25-14 25-20.
The scintillating win in the all-ASEAN’s battle turned out to be a fine warm-up match of Thailand and the Philippines counterparts as both teams will next week participate in the South East Asian Games in Malaysia. Thailand are hot-favorite for the title out there after they have won the SEA Games crown perennially.
“It’s a tough match indeed. The Philippines played well before their home crowds. Their reception was good beyond our expectation. I admit that we had difficulties in scoring points from them. We next take on Korea and certainly, it will be a tougher task. We have to play our game and try to do our best. I’m glad that my team made it to the semi-finals, the initial target of the Thailand Volleyball Association. However, we have to allow our players to gain more experience from this championship. It will help build a brighter future for young players,” Thailand head coach Danai Sriwacharamaytakul commented after the match against hosts Philippines on Tuesday.
Thailand, which finished a distant 10th at the recent FIVB World Grand Prix, next go up agains world No.10 and the Incheon Asian Games champions Korea in the Wednesday’s semi-finals. Powered by superstar spiker Kim Yeon-Koung, Korea, runners-up at this year’s FIVB World Grand Prix Group 2, flexed their muscle to brush off Chinese Taipei 25-20 25-11 28-26 to remain undefeated in the top-tier competition on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, China keep their title-defense hopes alive as they became the first team on Tuesday to advance to the semi-finals following their hard-fought 25-16 34-32 25-23 victory over Kazakhstan.
“I have to give credit of success to all of my team players. As a young team, they played with hearts. Kazakstan are very powerful and to beat them, my young team had to play with high spirits and consistency. In fact, my team players are very, very young. Since famous players are preparing for the 13th National Games of China at the end of this month in Tianjin, the Chinese Volleyball Association decided to send this young team to the Asian Championship here. I’m very glad that my team made it to the semi-finals although there is no China national player in the squad,” said a proud Bao Zhuang, head coach of China, in an interview after the match.
Japan continued their winning streak on Tuesday after sending Vietnam packing in comfortable straight sets 25-22 25-21 25-16. The Japanese side, which fielded second string to finish a disappointing sixth at the previous episode in Tianjin, China two years ago, are due to take on China in a rematch on Wednesday. Earlier, Japan beat China in straight sets in their preliminary Pool B clash.
At the Muntinlupa Sports Complex, Sri Lanka returned with the 13th place after outclassing debutantes Maldives 25-19 25-13 25-14, while the 9th-12th playoff encounters saw Iran come back to beat Hong Kong 21-25 25-19 25-18 25-15 and Australia trounce New Zealand 25-14 25-17 25-17.
On Wednesday, Australia take on Iran in the 9th-10th playoff match, with Hong Kong and New Zealand battling for the 11th position.
At Alonte Sports Arena
Korea b Chinese Taipei 3-0 (25-20 25-11 28-26)
Japan b Vietnam 3-0 (25-22 25-21 25-16)
China b Kazakhstan 3-0 (25-16 34-32 25-23)
Thailand b Philippines 3-0 (25-21 25-14 25-20)
At Muntinlupa Sports Complex
13th-14th playoff: Sri Lanka b Maldives 3-0 (25-19 25-13 25-14)
9th-12th playoffs: Iran b Hong Kong 3-1 (21-25 25-19 25-18 25-15); Australia b New Zealand 3-0 (25-14 25-17 25-17)
Wednesday, August 16, 2017
At Alonte Sports Arena
10.00am: 5th-8th playoff: Vietnam v Kazakhstan
12.30pm: 5th-8h playoff: Chinese Taipei v Philippines
15.00pm: Semi-finals: Japan v China
17.30pm: Semi-finals: Thailand v Korea
At Muntinlupa Sports Complex
10.00am: 11th-12th playoff: Hong Kong v New Zealand
12.30pm: 9th-10th playoff: Iran v Australia
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