JAPAN ROUT CHINESE TAIPEI 3-1 TO STORM INTO AVC CUP SHOWDOWN FOR FIRST TIME EVER
Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand, September 21, 2018 – Japan stormed into the final showdown of the AVC Cup for Women for the first time in history after annihilating Chinese Taipei in thrilling four-setter 25-15 25-20 21-25 25-23 in the Friday’s semi-finals.
Shiori Aratani scored a match-high 21 points for Japan including 17 kills from 35 attempts and 2 aces, while Miyu Nakagawa contributed 16 points including 14 attacks and Miwako Osanai added 13 points. Chang Li-Yun led Chinese Taipei with 12 points including a team-leading 4 blocks.
Japan, the favourites to win this hotly-anticipated contest, obviously had better individual talents and were expected to turn the tables on Chinese Taipei in the first set. Captain Shiori Aratani, who played in the Japanese side in this year’s Asian Women’s Club Championship in Kazakhstan, and Miyu Nakagawa, who led Japan to victory at this year’s Asian U19 Championship in Vietnam, were on fire to devastatingly attack the rivals for the team’s 8-3 lead. Scintillating blocks and a splendid teamwork helped Japan widen the margin to 17-8. Chinese Taipei tried to pick things up, but their form was a far cry from their previous match against Korea. Japan took the opening set 25-15.
Conceding one set, Chinese Taipei recovered from a slow start in the first set and played much better in the second set. Hard-attacking Huang Ching-Hsuan and Huang Hsin-Yu gave the team a brief comeback in the second set 6-4 before Japan held their nerves and bounced back mightily with exceptional attacks from Miyu Nakagawa and Shiori Aratani to help Japan meet the rivals at 13-13. The lead was stretched to 21-19 when Nakagawa was ably supported by the menacing attacking duo of Aratani and NIchika Yamada. The well-established Japan took the second set 25-20.
The third set was a different scrip when Chinese Taipei were quick and powerful early on to take an initial 6-0 lead. Shiori Aratani produced great serves, while Nakagawa and Yamada joined hands in overpowering the blockers with their thunderous spikes to help Japan close out the margin 11-11. Chinese Taipei were just never-say-die as they hit back mightily with attacks and effective drop shots to trail the rivals with one point behind at 15-16. From then, they increased the speed of their engine to overtake Japan 23-20 and never looked back to win the set 25-21.
Chinese Taipei gained the upper hand in the fourth set to lead 8-4. Nonetheless, Japan gathered their courage and form and their scintillating blocking proved a thorn in the rivals’ attacks as they bagged crucial points to level at 11-11 and again 18-18. From then on, both teams gave it all out to win the set, but Japan fared better offensively to win the nail-biting set 25-23 and match.
“We lost the third set because we made too many mistakes on serves and service reception, but the work system and good attacks were the key point for my team’s win in this match against Chinese Taipei. We next take on either China or Thailand in the final round. For us, both teams are very strong and we find it very difficult to play them. However, no matter which them we will play in the final, we will try our best to win the title,” Japan head coach Kiyoshi Abo commented.
This is the first time since the tournament’s inception in 2008 in Nakhon Ratchasima that Japan made it to the final round. The Japan’s performance in the AVC Cup for Women has never been better than the fourth place they had achieved for four times in 2008, 2010, 2014 and 2016. In 2012 in Kazakhstan, Japan finished a disappointing fifth place.
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