JAPAN ENTERS SEMI-FINALS AT ASIAN WOMEN’S U17 CHAMPIONSHIP, SEES OFF IRAN 3-0
Nakhon Pathom, Thailand, May 24, 2018 – Reigning champions Japan became the first team to secure their berth for the next year’s FIVB Women’s U18 World Championship in Mexico after a comfortable straight-set victory over Iran in the knockout quarter-finals of the 12th Asian Women’s U17 Volleyball Championship at the Nakhon Pathom Municipality Gymnasium on Thursday.
The scintillating 25-12 25-17 25-16 win has enabled Japan, questing for their eight Asian titles including seven in a row, to the semi-finals, where they are due to take on the winners between hosts Thailand and Chinese Taipei on Saturday.
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.
Formidable Japan made a strong start to lead 14-8, thanks to talented Aimi Okawa’s well-placed serves and Yoshino Nishikawa’s powerful attacks. The excellent combination plays, fine teamwork and solid defence won Japan seven consecutive points. The Iranians put up a brave fight, but the Japanese proved the rivals’ mission wrong as they went on their unchallenged skills which baffled the Iran’s efforts. Japan took the effortless first set 25-12.
As Japan rested their best players and fielded substitutions in the second and third sets, Iran roared back with great serves, effective cross-court drops and attacks. Their determined efforts briefly bore fruits as Iran narrowed the margin in the middle of the set, but Japan stormed on aggressive attacks. With superb form, Japan captured both sets 17-25 16-25 and match.
“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 the winners between Thailand and Chinese Taipei. Both teams have good combinations. It’s very difficult to beat them, but we will do our best,” Japan coach Daichi Saegusa commented. “For Thailand, they are not tall, but play fast with good combinations. We have to work hard on reception and attacks.”
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