CHINA RECLAIM ASIAD GOLD MEDAL AFTER 3-0 BLITZ OVER THAILAND IN FINAL CLASH OF TWO UNBEATEN TEAMS
Jakarta, Indonesia, September 1, 2018 – Invincible China were superior in every department against Thailand as the world No.1 demolished the lower-ranked rivals in comfortable straight sets in the final showdown to capture gold medal at the 18th Asian Games volleyball competition at the GBK Tennis Indoor Stadium on Saturday.
The sensational 25-19 25-17 25-13 triumph with incredible unbeaten record stretched the China’s invincibility to eight. They had already claimed seven gold medals in the quadrennial sports extravaganza including four times in a row in 1998 in Bangkok, Thailand, 2002 in Busan, Korea, 2006 in Doha, Qatar and 2010 on home soil in Guangzhou. They went down to hosts Korea in the final showdown in the previous Games in Incheon four years ago to take home silver.
China, fully loaded with seven players who competed in the Rio Games gold-winning side led by star spiker Zhu Ting, Gong Xiangyu and Liu Xiaotong, made a storming start in the first set, with the high-flying Zhu spearheading the team’s defence. Zhou, 194cm tall, used her height advantage to overcome the smaller-built blockers with her exceptional attacks and put her team in front with a 3-point advantage at 19-16. From then on, China dominated the whole game, while the Thais were utterly outclassed and lost the set 19-25.
The world No.1 combined extreme power through Zhu’s fine attacks and solid block by the 199cm Yuan Xinyue and Yan Ni to seize the 7-2 lead for good in the second set. Thailand had to battle hard, trailing by five points at 5-10 and despite their sturdy challenge, the going still got tough. The Chinese went on their successful attacks to snatch the second set 25-17.
Thailand, also undefeated en route to the Saturday’s final clash, gradually pulled their game together for an attempted comeback in the third set, but failed to make their mark. China were well in total control to win the one-sided set 25-13 and match.
China reigned supreme over the 18th Asiad volleyball competition, while Thailand picked up maiden silver, the medal they have never won in 56 years since the competition debut in 1962 in Jakarta. Title-holders Korea came in third place after powering past Asian champions Japan 3-1 in the third-place playoff.
The competition venue was fully packed to its 3,000-seater capacity on Saturday, the final day of the competition. IOC President Thomas Bach and FIVB and AVC Honorary Life President Mr Wei Jizhong also watched the final match on the courtside and shook hands with all players after the match.
In the third-place playoff earlier, defending champions Korea, which succumbed to the bitter 3-1 defeat at the hands of in-form Thailand in the semi-finals the previous day, fought hard against the gallant Japanese side, which also faced the similar fate in the semi-finals following the disappointing 0-3 loss to indomitable China in a one-sided encounter.
Korea which breezed past China B team in straight sets to capture their second Asiad gold medal in history on home soil in Incheon four years ago, got off to a brilliant start to clinch the gritty first set 25-18 in this crucial match against the Asian winners.
Japan, led by Erika Shinomiya, Yuki Ishii and Risa Shinnabe, clawed their way back into the match in the second set. The enormous stuff blocks from Yurie Nabeya and Mai Okkumura and fine attacks from Risa and Yuki helped the team take the set 25-21. Star spiker Kim Yeonkoung powered through the third set and put the Koreans back on track with the comfortable 25-15 win.
Coach Kumi Nakada shuffled her lineup to improve her players’ tactics. However although the Japanese came up with the much-improved form, the Koreans fared better at their last-ditch attempt to capture the hard-fought set 27-25, match and bronze medal.
Meanwhile, Kazakhstan, which finished 6th in Incheon, avenged the 2-3 loss to Vietnam in the preliminary Pool B encounter by demolishing the same rivals in close four-setter 25-18 22-25 25-22 26-24. The Kazakhs team finished fifth this time, leaving the Asean counterparts to return with the sixth place.
The seventh position went to hosts Indonesia after a 3-1 (25-17 23-25 25-19 25-20) demolition of the Philippines in the playoff.
SATURDAY’S FINAL RESULTS
7th-8th Playoff: Indonesia b Philippines 3-1 (25-17 23-25 25-19 25-20)
5th-6th Playoff: Kazakhstan b Vietnam 3-1 (25-18 22-25 25-22 26-24)
Bronze-Medal Match: Korea b Japan 3-1 (25-18 21-25 25-15 27-25)
Gold-Medal Match: China b Thailand 3-0 (25-19 25-17 25-13)
9. Chinese Taipei
11. Hong Kong China
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