JAPAN, THAILAND, TAIPEI START THEIR WINNING WAYS AT ASIAN WOMEN’S U19 CHAMPIONSHIP
Bac Ninh, Vietnam, June 10, 2018 – In-form Japan pulled off a stunning straight-set victory over defending and 12-time champions China, as Chinese Taipei turned the tables on Korea on the action-packed opening day of the 19th Asian Women’s U19 Volleyball Championship at the Bac Ninh Gymnasium here on Sunday.
In a rematch of the 2016 final showdown at The Mall Nakhon Ratchasima’s MCC Hall in Thailand, Japan avenged the loss to China, currently world champions, by brushing off the strongest rivals in comfortable straight sets 25-16 25-22 25-13 in Pool A.
Haruna Yamashita scored a team-high 18 points for Japan including 16 kills from 27 attempts, while Miyu Nakagawa and Shion Hirayama contributed 12 points apiece. Sun Ruo Qing topscored China with 10 points.
“China are very strong and this match is very important for us. My players did a great job. We did our best in this match and we did not exactly know if China are at their best. Our service, defence and combinations are our key points to victory. We next play Thailand. Before competing in this championship, we considered China and Thailand as our strong rivals. We can’t underestimate these two teams and we then prepared well to play them. We had only two players here who competed in the Asian U18 squad. They are No.10 Mao Ito and No.14 Ayaka Araki. We trained 30 days ahead of this tournament,” Japan coach Kiyoshi Abo commented after the match.
In the other Pool A encounter, Thailand came from behind to beat hosts Vietnam 3-1 (24-26 25-21 25-17 25-21).
“We did not learn before how the Vietnamese tactics would be till we played them. That’s why we tried to learn from the mistakes we made in the first set and after that, we started to read their game well and learned how to cope with their tactics. We next take on Japan. Our game plan remains unchanged. We have to see how well we can come up with blocking, attacks and counter-attacks in the match against the Japanese. However, I admit that it’s very difficult to overcome their blocking,” said Thailand coach Chamnan Dokmai.
Chinese Taipei played a tough Pool B match against Korea and in a display somewhere near their best, Chinese Taipei overpowered the well-established rivals in a hard-fought five-set thriller 25-17 25-17 22-25 15-25 15-13.
“Middle blockers are main weapons in our victory over Korea. In the third and fourth sets, we could not overcome high blocks from Korea. They are a very strong team and I think we are lucky to beat them. Against Kazakhstan in our next match, I can’t say anything now since we have yet seen their performance. However, we will do our best,” Chinese Taipei coach Kuang Chin-Tu commented.
In the other Pool B match at Bac Ninh University Hall, Kazakhstan were handed a sturdy challenged by India before powering past the determined rivals 25-22 25-19 27-25.
In Pool C at the same venue, Australia put it past fighting Macao in four-setter 25-19 18-25 25-18 25-13.
Iran, contesting their opening match at Bac Ninh Gymnasium, recovered to beat Hong Kong 3-1 (19-25 25-13 25-18 25-18).
The other match saw New Zealand stage a successful comeback in a difficult match against Malaysia. Conceding the first two sets 16-25 20-25, the Kiwis turned up the heat on Malaysia to win the remaining three sets 25-22 25-22 16-14 for the eventual 3-2 victory in the exhausting 123-minute battle.
On the Monday’s pool round-robin preliminaries, Thailand go up against Japan and Vietnam challenge China in Pool A, while in Pool B, Chinese Taipei take on Kazakhstan and Korea meet India.
The Pool C encounters see Iran play Australia and Hong Kong face Macao, with Sri Lanka playing their first match against New Zealand in Pool D.
The 19th Asian Women’s U19 Volleyball Championship serves as the Asian qualification tournament, where only top two teams will secure their berths for the next year’s FIVB Women’s U20 Volleyball World Championship in Italy. Two years ago, China and Japan finished top two in the Asian meet to test their mettle in the U20 World Championship in Mexico. There, China conquered the world, while Japan finished third place.
At Bac Ninh Gymnasium
Iran b Hong Kong 3-1 (19-25 25-13 25-18 25-18)
Japan b China 3-0 (25-16 25-22 25-13)
Chinese Taipei b Korea 3-2 (25-17 25-17 22-25 15-25 15-13)
Thailand b Vietnam 3-1 (24-26 25-21 25-17 25-21)
At Bac Ninh University Hall
Australia b Macao 3-1 (25-19 18-25 25-18 25-13)
New Zealand b Malaysia 3-2 (16-25 20-25 25-22 25-22 16-14)
Kazakhstan b India 3-0 (25-22 25-19 27-25)
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