CHINA IN FINAL SHOWDOWN AFTER EPIC COMEBACK WIN OVER OLD FOES KOREA
Nakhon Pathom, Thailand, May 26, 2018 – Formidable China avenged Korea, the team they lost 1-3 in the pool plays earlier, in epic hard-fought five-setter to power their way into the final showdown of the 12th Asian Women’s U17 Volleyball Championship at the Nakhon Pathom Municipality Gymnasium.
The incredible 19-25 25-21 25-27 25-16 15-10 win helped the Chinese side set up a final rematch of the previous edition in Chongqing with reigning champions Japan, the team they went down 1-3 in the pool plays.
Wu Mengjie scored a team-high 20 points for China including 12 kills from 22 attempts, while Park Suyeon topscored Korea with 26 points including 19 kills from 49 attempts.
China, attempting to erase the nightmare of the 1-3 letdown to Korea in the pool plays earlier, used their height advantage to attack mightily in the first set. Zhou Yetong and Liu Mejun led the Chinese assaults with their attacks to help China stay in front 7-2 and advance 14-10. Korea put their acts together and hit back with amazing fast spikes and twinkling serves to catch the former four-time Asian winners at 16-all. Smaller, but faster Korea rolled on their attacking sprees to win the first set 25-19, with a mistaken spike from Zhou scoring the Korea’s last point.
Losing one set, the Chinese girls roared back to jump to a commanding 8-2 lead in the second set, thanks to Zhou’s heavy attacks which caught the Koreans flat-footed several times. Leading for good 15-10, China went on their attacks and the Koreans attempted on counter-attacks. Korea’s intention was almost fruitful when they narrowed the margin 24-21 before Zhou attacked devastatingly to hand China the set win 25-21.
The third set turned out to be a hard-fought affair when both sides poured everything they had to win the match – powerful serves, solid blocks and fine attacks. Korea seemingly played every part of the game well as they came up with deceptive spikes and powerful jump serves to lead narrowly 21-20, but the Chinese stormed back with exceptional attacks from Liu, Zhou and Wang Yifei to catch the smaller-built rivals at 24-24. It was a competitive competition which could be a game of catch-me-if-you-can, with Korea keeping the pace. After a few smashes, the Koreans won a crucial point to lead 26-25 before Park Eunseo hit a thundering spike to close out the hard-fought set 27-25.
In the fourth set, China performed brilliantly to foil all Korea’s fightback attempts. Taking a narrow 18-16 lead, China continued their invincible run by not dropping any point to the errors-prone Koreans after that to take the set 25-16.
China made an aggressive start to lead 7-3 in the decider, but the Koreans were never-say-die as they struck back with great attacks and blocks. Still, the Chinese continued the good show to win the tie-breaker 15-10.
“It was a tough match. My players are tall, but can move slowly. So, they made so many mistakes. Staff coaches help teach them right from wrong. When the players did wrong things, staff coaches corrected them. This is just because they trained only one month before coming here and played nervously in this championship. Yu Changwen also made his debut effort as the China head coach and it proves his career is on the right track,” China team manager Li Guodong commented.
Asked about the China’s chances in the final showdown against Japan, Li said, “In my point of view, Japan are a very strong team. To beat them is not that easy. They play a fast game and their attacks are very aggressive. Our chance to beat the Japanese is just 40 per cent, but we will do our best.”
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