Favourites have field day at Asia Volleyball Women’s Club Championship
The annual championship is being held from April 17 to 25 and serves as a qualifying tournament to decide the Asian club representative to compete in the FIVB Volleyball Women’s Club World Championship, which will take place from May 7 and 11 in Zurich, Switzerland. Asia is the last continent after Europe and South America to complete their championship, with a wild card appointment completing the qualification process of six teams. Hosts Volero Zurich have automatically qualified and are joined by South American champions Sesi-SP, European winners Dinamo Kazan and wild card recipient Molico Osasco:
In-form PLDT of the Philippines outclassed India’s KSEB 3-0 (25-17, 26-24, 25-16) in a thrilling battle thanks to their strong line up with the likes of former Cuban national spiker Regla Maritza Bell Mackenzie who led Cuba to capture three successive Olympic titles from 1988 to 2000 and the 1998 FIVB Volleyball World Championship, skilful setter Misao Tanyama from Japan and powerful Santiago Alyja Daphne, who stands 1.97m tall. Santiago Alyja Daphne emerged as the top scorer for PLDT with 20 points including 16 spikes and three blocks. Parakku Thazhath top scored for KSEB with nine points.
“We are more confident now," PLDT’s coach Sinfronio Acaylay said. "It’s hard to play, anyway. We had two weeks training in Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand and had a chance to train with a strong Thailand team. We have no national players in my team. PLDT is a club team and after this tournament, we will go back for the national team selection. We next take on China’s Bohai Bank Tianjin. We have heart, we have confidence. They are very strong and one of the best teams, but they humans, we are humans. We have to fight, of course. We want to win. We eye the top four finish here,” said after the match.
Taipei, who fielded all national team players including Chen Wan Ting, Wu Wei Hua, Chang Yu Chia, Chen Yi Ju and Yang Yi Chen, were too good for Singapore’s VAS who were too young and inexperienced. After 53 minutes Taipei had won 3-0 (25-8, 25-7 25-6).
Wu Wei Hua bagged eight points for Taipei, while Yeo Qian Lin Marylyn scored a match-high four points for VAS.
“It’s a good start of the tournament," Taipei’s Italian coach Ramazzo Federico, who started coaching Taipei last August, said. "VAS is a team which can provide a good intensity of play. We played with heart. We played with technique. I like it. We next play India’s KSEB. Their middle blocks can make a lot of troubles to any team. They play a nice game, they play fast. I hope we can provide performance like today, fight for the same result,” he said
Nakhonratchasima delighted home fans with a scintillating 3-0 (25-16, 25-17, 25-14) win over Iran’s Matin Varamin. Nakhonratchasima had six national players in their team, but fielded only two in their starting line-up including hard-attacking Wanichaya Luangthonglang, while Matin Varamin were led by powerful Borhanie Maedeh.
Luangthonglang and Borhanie Maedeh finished as top scorers after collecting 17 points apiece. Maedeh fared better in spiking with 17 points, while Wanichaya bagged 14 points from spiking, two in blocks and one from service.
“I’m happy with the result, I have never thought before that the match would end in straight sets," Suthichai Chanbunchee, coach of Nakhonratchasima and former national team coach said. "This is just because our training was just 70 per cent. I think to take part in this major tournament, we have to give it all 100 per cent if we need to win. The ball reception of the Iranian team was not that good and we seized the chance to destroy their defence. We next take on Vietnam’s Thong Tin Lienvietpostbank. They are one of the strong teams in this championship and we can’t underestimate them. We have to make our preparation the best in an effort of making a good match against the Vietnamese. However, I’m still upbeat that we can beat them,”
Devastating Bohai Bank Tianjin fought hard against Kazakhstan’s Zhetyssu to stun the in-form rivals in thrilling encounter. Former four-time champions Bohai Bank Tianjin (formerly Tianjin Bridgestone) have been regarded as the hot-favourite for this championship with the likes of Yin Na, Wei Qiuyue, Chen Liyi and Wang Jiamin, Tianjin all performing well while Zhetyssu fielded all national players whose team beat hosts Thailand in the very first match of the last year’s Asian Senior Women’s Championship in Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand.
Led by the two towers, the 195cm-tall Alena Omelchenko and the 192cm-tall Lyudmila Anarbayeva, Bohai Bank Tianjin won 3-0 (25-23. 25-19, 25-15).
Chen Liyi collected 17 points for Bohai Bank Tianjin, while Alena Omelchenko emerged as the top scorer for Zhetyssu after bagging 15 points.
“It’s the first match of the tournament and I think my players did not play well up to their standard today," Tianjin’s coach Wang Baoquan said. "Zhetyssu are very strong. We made several mistakes. However, I hope they will do much better tomorrow. Japan’s Hisamitsu Springs and Kazakhstan’s Zhetyssu are also strong and I think if we can maintain our form, we might take on either Zhetyssu or Hisamitsu Springs in the final showdown. If so, we will do our best to beat them and take home the title. Against PLDT of the Philippines in our next match, I will field more young players. There are three national players in my team, Chen Liyi, Wei Qiuyue and Yao Di.”
A total of 10 teams including China’s Bohai Bank Tianjin, Kazakhstan’s Zhetyssu and Thailand’s Nakhonratchasima are competing in the Asian Women’s Club Championship, vying for the top honour and the ticket to contest the FIVB Volleyball Women’s Club World Championship in Zurich, Switzerland.
On Friday, India’s KSEB take on Taipei, Singapore’s VAS play Zhetyssu of Kazakhstan, PLDT of the Philippines go up against China’s Bohai Bank Tianjin and Vietnam’s Thong Tin Lienvietpostbank challenge Japan’s Hisamitsu Springs in their first match of this championship. Hosts Nakhonratchasima have two rest days.
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