UNBEATEN JAPAN STORM THROUGH TO THE SEMI-FINALS
Bac Ninh, Vietnam, June 15, 2018 – Fired-up Japan, the only team which have yet dropped a set to their respective opponents, comfortably saw off Iran in straight sets 25-14 25-15 25-6 to remain unbeaten heading into the semi-finals of the 19th Asian Women’s U19 Volleyball Championship at the Bac Ninh Gymnasium on Friday.
None of the Japanese side scored a double digit as coach Kiyoshi Abo made a lot of changes in the team roster. Goya Saki and Hinata Shighihara similarly charted 8 points for Japan, while Mona Ashofteh scored 8 points for Iran.
Japan and Iran started strongly with points going back and forth from the very beginning of the first set. Levelling 9-9, Goya and Araki Ayaka were playing smart and positioning themselves well for the counter-attacks. The superb duo unleashed on several powerful blows, while some fierce defence and show of the Japanese girls surged into a seven-point lead at 20-13. Some sharp spikes from Aytak Salamat and Fatemeh Enayat gave Iran some faint hope, but the aggressive Japanese were soon back in control. Japan handed Iran one more point from an Araki’s erratic serve to seal the comfortable set 25-14.
Goya’s accurate serving was causing the Iranians’ problem in the second set and electric spikes from Hinata and Araki handed the Japanese a 9-4 advantage. Iran regrouped but still had no answer for the Japan’s superb net play and incredible speed. Things were getting worse when they were error-strewn, allowing the Japanese several attacking opportunities. Coach Kiyoshi Abo replaced the team’s best players with substitutions in order that the less-experienced rivals could not decipher their game plan. Japan showed their resilience through exceptional attacks and solid blocking to win the set 25-15.
Iran hustled and dived around the court, going for everything in the third set, but Japan stormed on with their powerful blows. The set became a completely one-sided affair with the Iranians simply blown away by a fierce barrage and a well-guarded defence of Japan, which grabbed the effortless set 25-6, match and a semi-final berth.
“In this tournament, I just want to use all my players to make sure everyone in my team has a chance to learn, improve her conditions and get ready for each match. In this match, the Iranians came up with good spikes, but at the end of the first set, we could cope well with their tactics and that’s why we involved in a tense contest in some moments. In the semi-finals, we will do our best no matter which team we will play. The first set will be the most important for us because it will show the rhythm of the game. If we happen to lose the first set, we will try our best to make a comeback for the second set and maintain that form to win the match,” Japan head coach Kiyoshi Abo commented.
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