JAPAN THROUGH TO SEMI-FINALS OF 6TH AVC CUP FOR WOMEN AFTER 3-1 ROUT OF VIETNAM
Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand, September 19, 2018 – Fired-up Japan advanced to the semi-finals of the 6th AVC Cup for Women after producing a magnificent come-from-behind 3-1 (20-25 25-23 25-12 25-23) victory over Vietnam in the quarter-finals at the Chartchai Hall on Wednesday.
Miwako Osanai chipped in with 19 attack points for Japan, while Shuri Yamaguchi and Shiori Aratani added 14 and 12 points respectively. Tran Thi Thanh Thuy led Vietnam with 16 points.
Asian champions Japan, which fielded a young, potential squad in this tournament, made a poor start in the opening set against Vietnam, 6th place at the recent 18th Asian Games in Indonesia. Trailing far behind 6-12, the Japanese girls, whose age average is just 19.4 years, regrouped for an improved form, but Vietnam were working as a well-oiled machine. With the 190cm Tran Thi Thanh Thuy tearing the Japanese defence into shreds, Vietnam stretched it with a 4-point advantage at 20-16 and went on their superb form to take the set 25-20.
Both teams made a solid start to trade points from the beginning of the second set which saw the score tied at 8-8. Exceptional spikes from Miwako Osanai and Nichika Yamada handed Japan a 13-11 advantage before Vietnam, using smart drop shots from Tran Thi Thanh Thuy, roared back to meet the Japanese at 17-17 and again at 20-20. As Japan were beginning to make errors, Vietnam found themselves two-point clear at 22-20. However, their leading way was short-lived as Japan stormed back with aggressive spikes and well-organised defence to surge ahead the experienced rivals to win the hard-fought set 25-23.
In the third set, coach Kiyoshi Abo’s girls waltzed into a 15-7 lead, utilising their incredible speed at and devastating attacks at the net, led by Shuri Yamaguchi, Shiori Aratani and Osanai, who led a Japanese team to victory at the last year’s Asian Women’s U23 Championship in Thailand. The rhythm was still with Japan as they widened the gap to 22-10 and allowed Vietnam only two more points to wrap up the totally one-sided affair 25-12.
The fourth set was still dominated by the athletic Japanese, who covered the court marvellously for attacks and blocks. Leading 13-10, Japan showed defensive resilience to win several crucial points and led commandingly 22-16. Vietnam did not give up easily as they came up with tremendous courage and superb form to reduce the gap at 21-23. However, to make short work of the rivals, Japan went on their brilliance to capture the thrilling set 25-23 and match.
“We lost the first set because of several mistakes we made including service and reception. That was a big point for our loss in that set. However, we could come back because our improved tactics and teamwork worked out pretty well in the third set. I don’t know yet which team will play us in the semi-finals (interview conducted at press time after the first match of the day), but no matter which team, we will do our best,” Japan coach Kiyoshi Abo commented.
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