Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand, September 15, 2013 – The four favoured teams - China, Japan, Korea and Kazakhstan - powered their way into the last eight teams at the end of pool play at the 17th Asian Senior Women’s Volleyball Championship at the Chatchai Hall on Sunday.
Defending champions China and Japan, Korea and Kazakhstan are all unbeaten after topping their pools as expected at the end of the pool round-robin preliminaries of the top-flight competition, the qualifying tournament for this year’s FIVB World Grand Champions Cup in Japan and the next year’s FIVB World Grand Prix.
Hosts Thailand breezed past debutantes Mongolia
World No.16 and AVC Cup winners Thailand pulled off a convincing 25-12, 25-9, 25-5 victory over Mongolia to complete their campaign in the round-robin preliminaries in second place to Kazakhstan in Pool A at the Chaichai Hall on Sunday.
With the scintillating win in a totally one-sided encounter, Thailand have collected six points from two wins against one loss to joinKazakhstan in the last eight teams Pool E.
Against Mongolia, Thailand made a reshuffle of players in this match. Teenaged attacker Thatdao Nuekjang replaced experienced Amporn Hyapha and the team’s shortest spiker Tapaphaipun Chaisri, 168cm, was sent in place of Malika Kanthong.
With the greater experience and form, Thailand took the first two sets without much effort 25-12 25-9. In the third set, Thailand fielded fast spiker Amporn, who has just healed her knee injury in recent weeks. The home side’s attack game remained on song, with powerful Onuma Sittirak tearing the Mongolian defence into shreds with her devastating cross-court spikes. Thailand captured the effortless third set 25-5 and the match.
Onuma Sittirak remained the top scorer of Thailand after claming 20 points in this match, while Gnabold Tsetsegjargal scored the highest 26 points for Mongolia.
“I’m glad that we won. We changed several players in this match to give them chances of learning competition experience. We next take onJapan in the last eight teams. They are a very strong and well-organised team. We lost to them twice this year. I admit that it’s not easy to beat them. However, we now have backs against the wall. We have nothing to lose, but try to do our best in the remaining matches,” Thai coach Kiattipong Radchatagriengkai commented after the match.
“My players always came up with more confidence after their wins. They have already won two matches. Thus, I’m convinced that they will do their best in the tough match against Japan. Anything can happen in the Monday match,” he added.
In-form Kazakhstan put it past battling Australia in dramatic four sets
Kazakhstan made a clean sweep in Pool A after ending the Australia’s determined challenge in thrilling four-set battle 25-16, 25-15, 24-26 25-18 in their last preliminary match at the MCC Hall inside The Mall Nakhon Ratchasima on Sunday.
Australia, led by hard-attacking Rachel Rourke, played a blocking game in a hotly-contested encounter against the tall rivals. However, fielding more individual talents in their team including the 195cm-Tatyana Mudritskaya, Kazakhstan proved an impossible nut to crack for the Aussies.
Sana Jarlagassova led Kazakhstan with 17 points, while Rachel Rourke topscored with 22 points from 69 attempts for Australia.
With straight three victories, world No.28 Kazakhstan claimed nine points to emerge as the Pool A winners.
China took good for the Philippines in one-sided encounter
China, world No.5 and silver medalists at the recent World Grand Prix, made short work of the Philippines in a 25-9, 25-10, 25-8 win however they lost middle blocker Yang Junjing when she sustained a sudden right ankle injury in the second set.
In an easy task against the Philippines, defending 12-time champions China fielded an exceptional line-up which included captain Hui Ruoqi, Zhu Ting and Ma Yunwen to wrap up the opening set effortlessly 25-9. As China were leading 3-0 in the second set, Yang Junjing slipped on the floor while attempting to attack the rivals and injured her right ankle. The 195cm Xu Yunli replaced the injured Yang. However, Chinastill marched on their onslaughts to win the second and the third sets 25-10 25-8.
Zhu Ting scored a match-high 19 points for China, while Alza Pontillas top-scored with 10 points for the Philippines. China emerged as the Pool B winners as expected.
China’s coach Lang Ping expressed concerns over the Yang’s injury. “Yang suffered from a sprained ankle. We are nervous about this because we will from now play strong teams. We have only two middle blockers. She got the injury, while we have no substitution. In this match against the Philippines, we did not get familiar with playing them. The Philippines are pretty short, but playing with different styles we are not used to. That’s why they played well against us in some moments.”
Iran remain on course after stunning win over Independent Team from India
Iran, world No. 93, outperformed the Independent Team from India in four sets 25-13, 22-25, 25-9, 25-18.
Iran came up much stronger this time after an eighth-place finish in the previous edition in Taipei two years ago. An impressive offensive combination of Mahsa Kadkhoda and Maedah Borhaniesfahan made Iran a strong team to be reckoned with in the not distant future.
After winning the first set with ease 25-13, Iran temporarily lost their touch to go down 22-25 in the second set. They came up with an improved teamwork to take the third set 25-9 and shone through their aggression in the fourth, which they won 25-18.
Mahsa Kadkhoda led Iran with 13 points, while Mini Mol Abraham scored the highest 11 points for Independent Team from India.
World No. 3 Japan brush off Hong Kong in comfortable tussle
Formidable Japan, former three-time champions which finished an impressive fourth place at this year’s World Grand Prix, whipped Hong Kong in straight sets 25-10, 25-7, 25-11 to top Pool C as expected.
Japan rested their captain Saori Kinura and instead fielded devastating left-hander Yukiko Ebata to lead the charge in the first two sets. Explosive southpaw Miyu Nagaoka was fielded in the third set and she also did not let her supporters down with her brilliant form. Finally,Japan had no problem thrashing the inexperienced oppositions in straight sets.
Yukiko Ebata led Japan with 12 points, while Lam Mei topscored with six points for Hong Kong.
“We played very well in this match against Hong Kong. We next take on Thailand, the team we beat twice this year. Of course, Thailandare a very strong team. We will also do our best to beat them again. This is volleyball. It’s our priority to keep winning in this tournament,” said Japan’s head coach Manabe Masayashi.
Vietnam struggled to beat Indonesia in all-Aseans battle
Vietnam performed up to their standard to pull off a dramatic 3-1 (25-19, 21-25, 25-10, 25-17) victory over Indonesia in their last Pool C preliminary match on Sunday at the MCC Hall.
Vietnam relied mostly on their wing attackers Pham Thi Yen and Do Thi Minh, while Indonesia were strengthened by powerful Amalia Fajrina Nabila and Yolla Yuliana. The more experienced Vietnam struggled in the first set when Indonesia challenged them seriously all the way. However, the Vietnamese proved they are stronger with greater experience and expertise. Vietnam won the thrilling four sets and the match.
Do Thi Minh topscored with 16 points for Vietnam, while Indonesia scored the most from Amalia Fajrina Nabila with 18 points.
Korea made a clean sweep in Pool D after powering past Chinese Taipei in straight sets
Well-established Korea, pursuing dreams of winning their first-ever Asian crown, fielded an aggressive line-up led by super star Kim Yeon-Koung to brush off Chinese Taipei in comfortable battle 25-14 25-15 25-13 in their last Pool D encounter.
World No.10 Korea started aggressively in the first set, with the 192cm Kim using her height advantage to puncture the Taiwanese defence with her exceptional attacks. As expected, Korea took the effortless set 25-14.
The formidable Koreans still took control of the next two sets. They played an impeccable defence, allowing Chinese Taipei difficulties to score. Playing with determination and consistency, South Korea won the second and the third sets 25-15, 25-13 and the one-sided encounter.
Kim Yeon-Koung scored a match-high 24 points for South Korea, with Chen Wan Ting leading Chinese Taipei with 13 points.
Winning all matches without dropping a single set to their respective rivals, the indomitable Koreans collected nine points to emerge as the Pool D winners, Chinese Taipei came in second place with six points from two wins against one loss.
“My team played in good condition. Everyone performed well in this match. We served and set well with good combination. We are now Pool D winners and according to the competition format, we have to play China also,” said Korea’s team manager Joo Dongwook.
“China are a very strong team. We have to study their tactics and other details. However, to beat the Chinese is not easy. We stand 50-50 chances of winning. We had a short time of training together in preparation for this tournament, only two weeks,” he added.
Sri Lanka put Myanmar into shade in hard-fought three-set clash
Sri Lanka performed impressively to overshadow Myanmar in thrilling battle 26-24 25-17 25-20.
Winless Myanmar tried hard to match Sri Lanka’s form, but their intention ran into difficulty when the Sri Lankans, led by E.D.W. Madumali and and P.A.V. Chamarika, maintained their attacking rhythm to make a clean sweep of three sets.
E.D.W. Madumali claimed crucial 13 points for Sri Lanka, while Khin Thet Wai led Myanmar with 12 points.
After the completion of three-day pool round-robin preliminaries, Unbeaten Kazakhstan claimed nine points to top Pool A, followed by hostsThailand with six points from two wins against one loss.
In Pool B, invincible China reigned supreme with nine points, while Iran came in second place with six points from two wins against one loss.
Pool C saw Japan emerge as the winners with unbeaten record to collect nine points, followed by Vietnam in second place with six points from two wins against one loss.
Undefeated Korea top Pool D with nine points, while Chinese Taipei finished second with six points from two wins against one loss.
In the pool round-robin last eight teams on Monday, Japan will take on Thailand and Kazakhstan play Vietnam in Pool E, while Pool F seesChina take on Chinese Taipei and Iran challenge Korea.
The remaining lower-ranked teams from the four pools – Australia, Mongolia, the Philippines, Independent Team from India, Indonesia, Hong Kong, Sri Lanka and Myanmar – all have been relegated to play in the 9th-16th classification round.
Pool A: Thailand bt. Mongolia 3-0 (25-12, 25-9, 25-5); Kazakhstan bt. Australia 3-1(25-16, 25-15, 24-26, 25-18)
Pool B: China bt. the Philippines 3-0 (25-9, 25-10, 25-8); Iran bt. Independent Team from India 3-1 (25-13, 22-25, 25-9, 25-18)
Pool C: Japan bt. Hong Kong 3-0 (25-10, 25-7, 25-11); Vietnam bt Indonesia 3-0 (25-19, 21-25, 25-10, 25-17)
Pool D: Korea bt. Chinese Taipei 3-0 (25-14, 25-15, 25-13); Sri Lanka bt Myanmar 3-0 (26-24, 25-17, 25-20)
Match schedule (all local times)
Pool Round-robin 1st-8th Quarter-finals
At Chatchai Hall
11am:, Korea vs. Iran
2pm: Thailand vs. Japan
4.30pm: China vs. Chinese Taipei
7pm: Kazakhstan vs. Vietnam
Pool Round-robin 9th-16th Classification
At MCC Hall
11am: Australia vs. Hong Kong
2pm: Indonesia vs. Mongolia
4pm: Independent Team from India vs. Myanmar
6pm: Sri Lanka vs. the Philippines