JAPAN UPSET HOSTS CHINESE TAIPEI IN FIVE-SET THRILLER TO GRASP BRONZE AT AVC CUP FOR MEN
Taipei, Chinese Taipei, August 15, 2018 – Japan grabbed bronze medal after pulling off an epic come-from-behind 3-2 (21-25, 20-25, 32-30, 29-27, 17-15) victory over hosts Chinese Taipei at the 6th AVC Cup for Men at the University of Taipei (Tianmu) Gymnasium on Wednesday.
It was a tense encounter from the first set which saw both sides tie at 10-10 before Japan advanced with a 3- point clear at 16-13. Chen Chien-chen, captain of Chinese Taipei, shook the Japanese defence from the serving line, leading his team to catching up with Japan again at 18-18. Allowing Japan three more points, Chinese Taipei made a good start by winning the first set 25-21.
Supported by over 3500 spectators, Chinese Taipei kept on target in the second set and led from the beginning to the end for a stunning 25-20 win.
Going down in straight two sets, Japan, led by captain Kobayashi Mitsuki, who launched missiles from the end line to help Japan break the 5-5 tie to a 8-5 lead at the first technical timeout, found their rhythm coming back on track. Chinese Taipei then narrowed it with just two points behind at 14-16 thanks to their spectacular services before Japan took advantage of two unforced errors produced by Chinese Taipei. Keeping this four-point lead, Japanese met their first set point of this match. Cheered by louder and louder supporter, Chinese Taipei raised a wave of desperate counterattacks and reached their first match point and bronze medal at 25-24 with 5 points in a row. However, a fantastic spike brought it back to a leveling game, which saw both sides trade blows before the Japanese proved steadier with a hard-decided 32-30 win.
In the fourth set, Japan regained their superb form, advancing over Chinese Taipei with steady 2-point clear before it was leveled at 23-23. Since then, another action-packed game started. However, the Japanese again proved their steadiness, and following tricky dip by Takanashi Kenta, they wrapped up the hard-fought set 29-27.
The tie-breaker witnessed both sided coming out in all force to win the bronze medal, trading heavy blows from the first service. Going through several ties from 6-6 to 15-15, Japan always managed to keep one step ahead and declared the end of the set at 17-15 and the match with two consecutive points including a final ace by Takanashi Kenta.
With the fantastic comeback, Japan grasped bronze medal, while Chinese Taipei finished 4th place as same as in the previous edition held in Thailand.
“It is great to have the opportunity to compete with Chinese Taipei, which are an experienced and strong team, allowing our young players to learn more details on the court. When we went down 0-2, I told my players we should not mind the score board, but focus on the game and deal each play solid instead,” commented Japan head coach Matsui Taiji.
“We took control in the first two sets in fact. However, our rhythm was disturbed since Japan replaced their lineups,” commented Chinese Taipei head coach Chen Yu-an.
“I am always excited when playing Japan. It’s a bit disappointed of losing the match,” said Chen Chien-chen, captain of Chinese Taipei.
Katsuok Masato chipped in with 22 points for Japan including 18 kills from 38 attempts, assisted by Tomita Shoma with 18 points.
Huang Chien-feng scored 22 points for Chinese Taipei including 19 kills from 33 attempts, supported by Liu Hong-jie, Chen Chien-chen, and Lin Yi-Huei, who added 15, 14 and 12 points respectively.