JAPAN STRETCH AURA OF INVINCIBILITY AT ASIAN WOMEN’S U17 CHAMPIONSHIP TO EIGHT
Nakhon Pathom, Thailand, May 27, 2018 – Japan overpowered China with an enthralling 3-1 (25-17 18-25 25-17 25-19) victory in the final showdown of the 12th Asian Women’s U17 Volleyball Championship at the Nakhon Pathom Municipality Gymnasium to stretch their aura of invincibility in the biennial competition to eight titles including seven in a row.
Japan became the only team which did not suffer any loss to rivals en route to 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 dominated by China (1999 in Singapore, 2001 in Trang, Thailand, 2003 in Si Sa Ket, Thailand and 2005 in Mandaue, the Philippines.
“China are very strong team. In the first set, they served very well, but our reception was also in great form. 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 the success in this championship was our service 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 high and too tough to handle. However, their attacks are not that good, while we performed well in combinations and reception,” Japan coach Daichi Saegusa commented after his team successfully retained the tile.
In the third-place playoff earlier, Thailand stunned Korea in dramatic four sets 25-19 25-17 8-25 25-16 to claim bronze medal. Both sides have never won the Asian title. Korea’s best-effort silver medal came in 1997, 2005 and 2007, while Thailand took the lone silver on home soil in 2014 when they went down 1-3 to Japan in Nakhon Ratchasima.
“My players played according to plan and they controlled the game well to win the first two sets, but Korea changed their tactics in the third set, which we could not thoroughly read their plan. My girls lost almost 20 points from poor reception and mistaken serves in the third set. In the fourth set, my girls played relaxed, while the Koreans became more prone with unforced mistakes,” Thailand coach Chamnan Dokmai commented.
“We are happy that our girls finished third place in this championship, which has fulfilled our initial target of winning among top three. Around 4-5 players in this U17 team will join the Thailand squad for the next month’s Asian Women’s U19 Championship in Vietnam. Our chances in that championship cannot be that high because only top two teams will make the cut for the world meet.”
In the other playoffs, formidable Chinese Taipei mercilessly crushed Kazakhstan in a completely one-sided battle 25-6 25-12 25-8 to grab the 5th place, Iran played a tough match against India before powering past the fighting rivals in thrilling four-setter 25-23 20-25 25-16 25-15 to take the 7th place, while Australia produced a magnificent come-from-behind 3-2 (11-25 25-13 23-25 25-13 15-12) victory over New Zealand to finish 9th place.
At the awards presentation, Japan, China and Thailand stood proud on the top-three podium. The trio, joined by Korea, qualified for the 2019 FIVB Women’s U18 Volleyball World Championship in Mexico.
5. Chinese Taipei
10. New Zealand
12 Hong Kong
BEST OPPOSITE SPIKER
Manami Koyama (No.8, Japan)
BEST MIDDLE BLOCKERS
Wu Megjie (No.1 China)
Madoka Kashimura (No.2, Japan)
BEST OUTSIDE SPIKER
Yoshino Nishikawa (No.4, Japan)
Zhou Yetong (No.3 China)
Supatcha Kamtalaksa (No.13, Thailand)
Jidapa Nahuanong (No.9, Thailand)
MOST VALUABLE PLAYER
Yoshino Nishikawa (No.4, Japan)
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