Japan suffer second loss as big teams flex muscles in Asian Junior Women's Championship
At Nakhon Pathom Gymnasium
Contesting the 1st-8th playoffs, Thailand continued their remarkable unbeaten run in the top-flight championship by pulling off a scintillating straight-set 25-18, 25-11, 25-12 victory over Kazakhstan.
Thailand, the FIVB world No.17 who finished fourth at the previous edition in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam two years ago, and Kazakhstan started close.
Thailand’s Jantana Chanchat, who stands just 172cm, jumped high to attack the taller Kazakh blockers with her devastating cross-court spikes, while team mates Kaewkalaya Kamulthala and Sasitorn Pimpa combined well to produce scintillating blocking.
Kazakhstan held their nerves to counter-attack well, with Ardak Maratova and Anastassiya Rostovchshidova puncturing the Thai defence with their mighty attacks to help the visitors tie the scores 8-8 and 12-12. After that, the hosts gained the upper hand and gradually built their lead until clinching the opener 25-18.
Conceding one set, the Kazakhs, whose height average is 180cm against the Thais’ 172cm, tried to make a comeback in the second set. However, they came up with poor reception, allowing them few attacking opportunities. Their below-par performance resulted in a disappointing 11-25 loss to the home side.
Holding 2-0 advantage, Thailand played more confidently in the third set. Powerful Kuttika Kaewpin produced several well-placed serves, while Ajcharaporn Kongyot attacked relentlessly at the post to help the team win the one-sided set 25-12.
Kuttika Kaewpin led Thailand with 15 points, seven from ace serves, while Jantima Chanchat bagged 10 points from fierce spikes and additional four points from powerful jump serves. Ardak Maratova top scored for Kazakhstan with 11 points.
“We served well, while Kazakhstan’s reception was a bit below their standard. With the poor reception, they could not challenge us with attacks. That’s why we won easily in this match,” said Thailand coach Nathapon Srisamutnak.
“We next take on Korea. I think my players still have many things to learn and improve for that tougher match, especially their reception. Korea have strong players in Shin Yeon-gyeong and Lee Jae-yeong, while her twin Lee Da-yeong is an incredible setter.
“We will try our best to beat the Koreans. The win will give us an easier task for the Sunday’s crucial match to decide four teams in the semi-finals,” he added.
Korea, the FIVB world No.19 who finished second to China in the previous edition two years ago, brushed off Iran in straight sets 25-9, 25-14, 25-19 to remain unbeaten in the tournament.
The Koreans got off to a brilliant start after racing to a 7-0 lead in the first set, thanks to terrific Lee Jae-yeong’s thundering spikes and Jeong Da-woun’s fast attacks. Korea took the completely lop-sided set 25-9.
The attacking rhythm was with Korea in the second set, which they led initially 16-10. Iran tried to seriously challenge the much stronger rivals, but their all-out attempts were in vain. Korea stormed on their aggression with an impeccable defence to win the set 25-14.
Down two sets, Iran regained their composure in the third set, with Neda Chamlanian stretching her hands to help her team come close at 12-16. However, the Koreans made short work of Iran, allowing them only three more points to wrap up the set 25-19.
Lee Jae-yeong scored 11 points for Korea while Neda Chamlanian emerged as the top scorer of Iran with eight points.
In the lower-ranked 9th-16 playoffs in Pool G, New Zealand struggled to beat Sri Lanka in a hard-fought three-set battle 25-20, 26-24, 25-18. Amelia Hunter led New Zealand with 15 points, while Sri Lanka got 12 points from Wasana Perera Thilini.
Hong Kong took young, inexperienced Kuwait to school with their good volleyball tactics before winning a totally one-sided match 25-3, 25-3, 25-5. Koo Yung Yung claimed 14 points for Hong Kong, while Shatha Al-huneidi won two points for Kuwait.
For the audience’s knowledge, the announcer at the competition mentioned that Kuwait gave their women the green light to play sports just two years ago.
At Ratchaburi Gymnasium
Title-holders China, the FIVB world No.1 who finished third at the previous FIVB World Junior Women’s Championship in Peru, blunted the fierce attacks from Japan with their power and exceptional tactics to thrash their smaller rivals in comfortable straight sets (25-13, 25-14, 25-11).
Japan, disappointed by the bitter 2-3 loss to Chinese Taipei in their Pool D preliminaries, faced a daunting task against powerhouses China in their Pool F clash in the 1st-8th playoffs.
China, whose average height is 186cm against Japan’s 174cm, used that advantage to attack the smaller blockers with spectacular spikes. Japan hit back bravely with more aggression. However, their challenge did not last long as China continued their onslaughts to win the first set 25-13.
The five-time champions Japan regrouped to improve their fortunes in the following sets, but the Chinese were just too strong, handing their rivals 25-14 and 25-11 losses.
The 192cm-tall Zhu Ting led China with 22 points, including 17 kills, while Aimi akiyama bagged nine points for Japan.
After showing awesome form to stun Japan in their previous clash, Chinese Taipei continued their winning streak on Friday with an exceptional 25-17, 25-13, 25-18 victory over India in their 1st-8th playoffs.
Chinese Taipei, who came within a whisker of landing the title in 2008 on home soil only to go down in straight sets to eventual winners Japan in the final showdown, excelled in their offence led by Lee Yu and Hsu I-Mei.
India bounced back with fierce spikes from Nishya Joseph and Anusri Ghosh, but still could not match the stronger oppositions’ better tactics and techniques. India went down in the first two sets 17-25 and 13-25.
India came to life in the third set, pushing Chinese Taipei to the limit with their attacks and solid blocking. But Chinese Taipei were very fast. They moved around the court to spike devastatingly from all corners to gain crucial points. After leading commandingly 22-16, Chinese Taipei never looked back. They allowed India only two more points to take the third set 25-18 and win the match.
Lee Yu claimed 15 points for Chinese Taipei, while Nishya Joseph top scored for India with 12 points.
In the lower-ranked 9th-16th playoffs in Pool H, Vietnam had little trouble mercilessly crushing Turkmenistan in straight sets (25-12, 25-11, 25-8). Duong Thi Nhan led Vietnam with 20 points, while Aziza Narbayeva claimed eight points for Turkmenistan.
Meanwhile, Australia recovered from a 23-25 first-set loss against Mongolia to take the remaining three sets 25-14, 25-17 and 25-19. Australia got 22 points from Jessyka Ngauamo. Davaajamtis Erdenebulgan led Mongolia with 17 points.
On Saturday, all 16 participating teams play their last match in playoffs to determine their final rankings.
In Nakhon Pathom
1st -8th playoffs: Thailand v Kazakhstan 3-0 (25-18, 25-11, 25-12); Korea v Iran 3-0 (25-9, 25-14, 25-19)
9th- 16th playoffs: New Zealand v Sri Lanka 3-0 (25-20, 26-24, 25-18); Hong Kong v Kuwait 3-0 (25-3, 25-3, 25-5)
1st -8th playoffs: China v Japan 3-0 (25-13, 25-14, 25-11); Chinese Taipei v India 3-0 (25-17, 25-13, 25-18)
9th- 16th playoffs: Vietnam v Turkmenistan 3-0 (25-12, 25-11, 25-8); Australia v Mongolia 3-1 (23-25, 25-14, 25-17, 25-19)
In Nakhon Pathom
12.00pm: Kuwait v Sri Lanka
2pm: New Zealand v Hong Kong
4pm: Iran v Kazakhstan
6pm: Thailand v Korea
12.00pm: Mongolia v Turkmenistan
2pm: Vietnam v Australia
4pm: India v Japan
6pm: China v Chinese Taipei