ASIAN WOMEN’S U17 CHAMPIONSHIP SEMI-FINALS CONFIRMED
Nakhon Pathom, Thailand, May 24, 2018 – Reigning champions Japan, China and Korea thrashed their lower-ranked rivals in comfortable straight sets to go through to the semi-finals of the 12th Asian Women’s U17 Volleyball Championship at the Nakhon Pathom Municipality Gymnasium, as Thailand made an epic comeback to join the Saturday’s fray.
The knockout quarter-final encounters were held on Thursday to decide the four winning teams which will compete in the Saturday’s semi-finals aside from securing four berths on offer to contest the next year’s FIVB Women’s U18 World Championship in Mexico, while the four losers will be relegated to the 5th-8th classification.
Japan, defending and seven-time Asian winners, reached the semi-finals with a 25-12 25-17 25-16 demolition of Iran. Yoshino Nishikawa scored a team-high 18 points including 17 kills from 29 attempts for Japan, while Yoshie Kawakami contributed 11 points. Hana Saeedaei led Iran with 9 points.
“The Iranian players are tall and so, we tried not to attack them directly to avoid their blocks. However, we made several mistakes while attempting to make sideline attacks. Since we are now heading the semi-finals and final, we have to change our activities to improve our performances. In our next match, we have to play Thailand. The host team have good combinations. It’s very difficult to beat them, but we will do our best. Actually, Thailand are not tall, but they play fast with good combinations. We have to work hard on reception and attacks,”Japan coach Daichi Saegusa commented.
Fired-up China also advanced to the semi-finals following a scintillating 25-20 25-13 25-2 victory over Kazakhstan. Zhou Yetong and Wang Yifei similarly scored 16 points for China, while Kristina Strukova led Kazakhstan with 7 points.
“We played according to plan. Before playing Kazakhstan, we watched their tape and analysed what the strong points of Kazakhstan are. That’s why we came out with good form to beat them. In our first two matches, we lost to Japan and Korea. Both teams are strong and we lost because our young players played nervously. In the semi-finals, we have a rematch with Korea and this time, I hope my girls can beat them,” said China coach Yu Changwen.
In-form Korea overwhelmed India with their staying power and amazing speed at the net to brush off the opponents 25-15 25-18 25-14.
The last match of the day saw Thailand produce a fantastic 3-2 (15-25 25-23 20-25 25-23 15-10) comeback victory over arch rivals Chinese Taipei.
“I’m very happy that my girls beat Chinese Taipei again. This time, it made my team eligible for the next year’s World U18 Championship. All credits of the success went to my girls, who have already learned how to play well under pressure. The loss in early sets did not let them down, but it turned to an amazing determination which led them to success eventually. To come this far in the Championship is a success, but I keep my promise that my team must stand a chance of standing on the top-three podium,” Thailand coach Chamnan Dokmai commented after the match.
Friday is the rest day for teams ranked 1st-8th. Two matches will be held in the 9th-12th playoffs which see New Zealand take on Malaysia and Hong Kong play Australia. The two losing teams will battle it out in the 11th-12th playoff the following day.
Also taking place on Saturday will be the semi-final clash between China and Korea, with Thailand challenging Japan. The 5th-8th playoffs earlier will see Iran play Chinese Taipei and Australia meet Kazakhstan.
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