JAPAN CAPTURE THEIR 8TH TITLE AT ASIAN WOMEN’S U17 CHAMPIONSHIP
Nakhon Pathom, Thailand, May 27, 2018 – Japan were on cloud nine on Sunday as the reigning champions overpowering China in hard-fought four sets 25-17 18-25 25-17 25-19 in the final showdown of the 12th Asian Women’s U17 Volleyball Championship at the Nakhon Pathom Municipality Gymnasium to stretch their invincibility to eight including seven in a row.
Japan became the only team which did not lose to any rival en route winning the title on Sunday. The exceptional win over China was also a repeated feat as they had already beaten the Chinese side 3-1 in their pool plays earlier.
The Sunday’s final was the Japan’s 10th in the top-flight event which included seven against China. The Japanese lost only two out of seven contested in the final against the formidable rivals. Among the eight titles Japan had won so far, the first one was in the inaugural event in Yala, Thailand in 1997. Japan also reigned supreme in 2005 in the Philippines, 2007 in Kamphaeng Phet, Thailand, 2010 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, 2012 in Chengdu, China, 2014 in Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand, 2017 in Chongqing, China and 2018 in Nakhon Pathom, Thailand. The remaining four editions were won by China (1999 in Singapore, 2001 in Trang, Thailand, 2003 in Si Sa Ket, Thailand and 2005 in Mandaue, the Philippines).
Against the mighty China, Japan fielded a strong lineup which beat the same rivals in the preliminary Pool A match. They included Yoshino Nishikawa, Yoshie Kawakami and Aimi Okawa. China were spearheaded by hard-hitting Zhou Yetong, Liu Meijun and Wu Mengjie.
The well-established Japan came up with power and amazing speed which won them the first set 25-17. China upped their poise and played more consistently in the second set, seizing the chance when Japan became prone with hasty unforced mistakes to fight back with aggressive attacks and scintillating blocks to win the set 25-18. Japan remained unbeatable in the following sets to win 25-17 and 25-19, match and the Asian title.
“China are very strong team. In the first set, they served well, but my girls also excelled in reception. In the second set, we made too many mistakes. I think our performance was just rock-and-roll in the first two sets. Our key point to today’s success was our serve and reception. I would like to give credits of success to everyone in my team. We played China twice in this championship, but the final showdown proved the most difficult. China are tall and their blocking is very good. However, their attacks are not that good, while we performed well in combinations and reception. With the win, I’m very happy. Now I’m sure everyone in my team will have a nice sleep,” Japan coach Daichi Saegusa commented after his team successfully retained the tile.
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