CHINA RETAIN AVC CUP TITLE AFTER 3-0 DEMOLITION OF JAPAN IN ACTION-PACKED SHOWDOWN
Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand, September 23, 2018 – Fired-up China thrashed Japan in pulsating 25-23 25-20 25-17 in the final showdown of the 6th AVC Cup for Women at the Chartchai Hall here on Sunday to capture the title with remarkable unbeaten record and stretch their invincibility for five times including three in a row.
For Japan, which have never come this far in the AVC Cup for Women, this was the first time ever that they made it to the final round in the biennial competition. The Japanese finished a disappointing fourth place for four times in 2008, 2010, 2014 and 2016, while the third edition in 2012 in Kazakhstan saw the Japanese return sadly with a fifth position.
China landed the AVC Cup for the first time in the inaugural event in 2008 here in Nakhon Ratchasima and repeated the similar feat two years later on home soil in Taicang. In the third edition in 2012 in Almaty, Kazakhstan, they lost the crown to Thailand, but regained the lost pride in 2014 at home in Shenzhen. China defended their title in 2016 in Vinh Phuc, Vietnam and clinched their fifth title here in Nakhon Ratchasima.
In this hard-fought final against the fighting Japanese, Liu Yanhan chipped in with 25 points for China including 17 kills from 46 attempts and a team-leading 7 blocks, while Zhang Yichan added 17 points including 13 attacks. Miyuki Horie led Japan with 13 points.
China fielded a formidable lineup led by ace spiker Liu Yanhan, the 194cm Gao Yi and Zhang Yichan, three of them joined the Chinese senior national team for this year’s VNL. Liu became the star of the Chinese side following her incredible form in the match between Thailand and China in the semi-finals, where she scored a tournament-high 42 points for her team.
Both teams made an aggressive start to trade attacks from the very beginning of the opening set, which saw the score tied at 9-9. China, whose height average is 185cm against the smaller-built Japan’s 176cm, utilised their height advantage to attack powerfully and block scintillatingly. China stayed in front with a three-point clear at 23-20. However, captain Shiori Aratani produced two aces to help Japan reduce the margin 22-23, but the team’s fightback was short-lived as China roared on to win the thrilling set 25-23.
In the second set, Japan got off to a brilliant start to race out to a 6-1 lead, courtesy of a splendid teamwork and Sayaka Yokota’s well-placed serves. China stormed back with solid blocks from Gao Yi and Sun Haiping and devastating attacks from Liu Yanhan to meet Japan at 20-20 and maintained their splendid form to score five points in a row for the 25-20 comeback win.
The third set was also thrilling with both sides pouring everything they had to win the set, but China’s hopes of their successful title defence came close to reality when they led from start to finish, with captain Zhang Yichan attacking devastatingly to hand her team the last point for the eventual 25-17 win.
As China successfully defended their title, Japan claimed historic silver medal in this tournament.
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