CURTAINS COME DOWN SUNDAY AS CHINA, JAPAN SET UP AVC CUP FINAL SHOWDOWN
Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand, September 22, 2018 – Defending and four-time champions China set up a final showdown with Japan in the 6th AVC Cup for Women at Chartchai Hall on Sunday, as debutantes Philippines rallied past Kazakhstan to take the 9th place on the penultimate day of the top-tier tournament.
China, fielding a young team with bright future led by brilliant Liu Yanhan, the 194cm Gao Yi and Zheng Yixin, looked set to retain their title and stretch their aura of invincibility to five in the biennial competition following their unbeaten record heading to the final clash for six in succession.
Japan also sent a young squad his time, but had something to be proud of as it’s for the first time ever that the Japanese have come this far. In the previous editions, the best performance any Japanese side could achieve in the AVC Cup was the fourth place in 2008, 2010, 2014 and 2016.
As China and Japan will battle it out for the eventual title, Thailand and Chinese Taipei will vie for the bronze medal. The host side, which won the maiden silver medal at the recent 18th Asian Games in Indonesia, are using the AVC Cup as a warm-up match tournament ahead of their departure for the FIVB Women’s World Championship in Japan between September 29 to October 20.
Meanwhile, Korea will take on Vietnam in the 5th-6th playoff, while the 7th-8th playoff encounter see Iran play Australia.
In the 5th-8th playoffs on Saturday, Korea overcame their dismal start to beat Iran in pulsating four sets 12-25 26-24 25-16 25-19. Ha Hyejin chipped in with 17 points from 16 attacks and one ace, while Hwang Minkyoung added 9 points including 8 attacks. Mahsa Saberi led Iran with 18 points from 16 attacks, one block and one ace.
The other match saw Vietnam, led by hard-attacking Tran Thi Thanh Thuy, brush off unfancied Australia in comfortable straight sets 25-14 25-15 25-21. Dang Thi Kim Thanh scored a team-high 13 points for Vietnam including 11 points from 25 attempts, while Jennifer Sadler became the lone Australian player who scored a double-digit 14 points.
In the 9th-10th encounter, debutantes Philippines demolished Kazakhstan in what could be a Pool C rematch in five sets 25-13 23-25 25-22 17-25 15-8 for the 9th place, their achievement in the historic tournament of the team.
The Philippines have never competed in the AVC Cup since only top eight teams in the Asian Senior Women’s Championship would be qualified for this top-tier competition. The amount of the participating teams have been increased to 10 in the 6th edition in Nakhon Ratchasima. The Philippines finished 8th in the last year’s Asian meet on home soil to automatically make the cut for the 6th AVC Cup here.
Kazakhstan sent in a full team senior national side to pick up silver at the previous edition in Vinh Phuc, Vietnam two years ago, but were represented this time by a young squad whose age average is 22.2 years.
Mylene Paat scored a match-high 18 points for the Philippines from 12 attacks, 2 blocks and a team-leading 4 aces, while Alyssa Valdez and Charleen Abigaile Cruz kept good company with 17 and 16 points respectively. Dinara Syzdykova led Kazakhstan with 16 points including 12 kills from 43 attempts.
“We served well and we beat them twice in this tournament. Hopefully, we could maintain our performance. We need to improve on balance. We can set higher target when we compete in other tournaments. It’s good experience for us and we’ve learned a lot from this tournament. Hopefully, we can take part in more tournaments like this. We need experience because my players are young,” Philippines head coach Delos Santos Cesael commented after the match against Kazakhstan.
Vietnam b Australia 3-0 (25-14 25-15 25-21)
Korea b Iran 3-1 (12-25 26-24 25-16 25-19)
Philippines b Kazakhstan 3-2 (25-13 23-25 25-22 17-25 15-8)
SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 23, 2018
11.00am: 7th-8th: Australia v Iran
13.30pm: 5th-6th: Korea v Vietnam
16.00pm: Bronze medal match: Thailand v Chinese Taipei
18.30pm: Championship match: China v Japan
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