THAILAND, KOREA TO STRUT THEIR STUFF AND JAPAN TO BE PITTED AGAINST CHINA IN SEMI-FINALS OF ASIAD VOLLEYBALL COMPETITION
Jakarta, Indonesia, August 29, 2018 – China, Japan, Korea and Thailand turned an awesome foursome to storm into the action-packed semi-finals of the 18th Asian Games volleyball competition at the GBK Tennis Indoor Stadium after 3-0 demolition of their unfancied rivals on Wednesday.
In the Friday’s semi-finals, world No.1 and Rio Games champions China, which mercilessly crushed the Philippines 25-15 25-9 25-7, will set up a big match with Asian winners Japan, outclassing Kazakhstan 25-16 25-18 25-21. Thailand saw off Vietnam 25-23 25-16 25-20 to go up against reigning Asian Games champions Korea, which powered past hosts Indonesia 25-22 25-13 25-18.
In the all-Aseans clash on Wednesday, Thailand, second place at the last year’s Asian Senior Women’s Championship in the Philippines and bronze medallists at the previous Asian Games in Incheon, Korea four years ago, made a sluggish start in the errors-riddled first set against fast-improving Vietnam to trail the Asean counterparts at halfway of the set, which the Vietnamese were leading with a 3-point clear at 19-16.
Thailand head coach Danai Sriwacharamaytakul shuffled his lineup a lot to choose the right formula to tactically and technically match the rivals. From then on, the Thai side found their rhythm as they caught up with the opponents at 20-20 and stormed on for the hard-fought 25-23 win.
With teen sensation Chatchu-on Moksri and another young star Pimpichaya Kokram brilliantly orchestrating the team’s offence, Thailand were well in control throughout the second set. However, as the Thai side seized the lead for good at 22-15, Chatchu-on collapsed into the floor, with face distorted in great pain. It was found later that the Thai scoring machine suffered from her ankle sprain and she was carried out from the court, rushed to the hospital for medical treatment. Wilavan Apinyapong was sent in to replace the injured Chatchu-on.
With the injured Chatchu-on on the sideline, Thailand found it a bit tough-going, but they put their acts together to overcome the setbacks. They took the second set with ease 25-16 and faced no issues in shutting out the Vietnamese 25-20 in the third set to capture the match and a semi-final berth.
Though unable to go the distance, Chatchu-on Moksri emerged as the top scorer of Thailand after chipping in with15 points including 12 kills from 25 attempts and 2 solid blocks. Bui Thi Nga led Vietnam with 13 attack points.
“I think we played difficultly in this match because of the mistakes we made, especially on reception in the first set. Furthermore, Chatchu-on suffered from the left ankle injury. Missing a key player like Chatchu-on did affect our team’s performance. However, we have to make use of the others who can replace the injured player. I’m unsure if she can heal in time when the competition has already entered the crucial stage,” said Thailand coach Danai Sriwacharamaytakul.
“We next take on Korea in the semi-finals. The Koreans are a good defensive team. They are strong and fast. We have to improve on our blocks and use more powerful serves to limit their aggression. Truly, to reach the semi-finals is our initial target in the 18th Asian Games. The remaining matches are our benefits. I hope my players will play their best in the remaining matches because it is likely to be the last opportunity for some players in my team to compete in the Asian Games,” he added.
In the second encounter, in-form Japan, led by left-hander Miyu Nagaoka and powerful hitter Ai Kurogo, relied on the collective rather than any individual but they had a sea of attacking riches at their disposal. The Japanese proved their superiority over Kazakhstan to brush off the opponents in straight sets 25-16 25-18 25-21.
Ai Kurogo chipped in with 20 points including 18 attack hits from 39 attempts, while team-mate Yuki Ishii kept a good company as she added 17 points including 16 kills. Sana Anarkulova led Kazakhstan with 20 points.
With star spiker Kim Yeonkoung at the helm, Korea were also strong defensively on Wednesday. Fielding nine players who joined the Incheon Games gold-winning team, Korea were troubled by the Indonesia’s exceptional combinations and attacks, mixed by the noisy cheering home crowds. However, the Koreans held their nerves and played cool under pressure for the 25-22 win in the first set.
The next two sets turned out to be one-sided battle. The Korean speed and power at the net were proving too much for Indonesia as the host side succumbed to the 13-25 18-25 defeats for the eventual 0-3 loss to the strong visitors. The star of the Korean team was talented Kim Yeonkoung, who chipped in with 18 points including 15 attacks, while Aprilia Santini Manganang scored a team-high 17 points.
Meanwhile, China became the only team in the tournament which have yet lost a single set to their respective rivals heading to the semi-finals. The World Grand Champions Cup champions sent the Philippines packing in a totally lop-sided affair 25-15 25-9 25-7 in 59 minutes.
Gong Xiangyu topscored with 16 points for China including 11 attacks and 4 blocks, while Santiago Alyla Daphne led the Philippines with 16 points.
At the GOR Bulungan Gymnasium, India eliminated Hong Kong China in straight sets 25-18 25-16 25-13, leaving the rivals to return with the 11th position. India will next take on Chinese Taipei in the 9th-10th playoff on Friday.
Thursday is a rest day for the women’s teams. The competition will resume on Friday with Vietnam taking on Indonesia and the Philippines facing Kazakhstan in the 5th-8th playoffs, while Thailand will challenge Korea and Japan will be pitted against China in the semi-finals.
Thailand b Vietnam 3-0 (25-23 25-16 25-20)
Japan b Kazakhstan 3-0 (25-16 25-18 25-21)
Korea b Indonesia 3-0 (25-22 25-13 25-18)
China b Philippines 3-0 (25-15 25-9 25-7)
9th-11th: India b Hong Kong China 3-0 (25-18 25-16 25-13)
AUGUST 30, 2018
10.00am: Thailand v Saudi Arabia
12.30pm: China v Pakistan
16.30pm: Korea v Chinese Taipei
19.00pm: Iran v Qatar
10.00am: 17th-18th Playoff: Mongolia v Kazakhstan
12.30pm: 11th-12th Playoff: Myanmar v India
16.30pm: 13th-16th: Sri Lanka v Nepal
19.00pm: 13th-16th: Vietnam v Kyrgyzstan
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