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Korea beat China to win women’s competition at Asian Games

Korea beat China in straight sets to clinch their second gold medal at the Asian Games
Incheon, Korea, October 2, 2014 - Hosts Korea made amends for their loss to defending champions China in the previous edition of the Asian Games with a straight-sets win over their arch-rivals in the finals of the women’s tournament at the 17th Asian Games.

This is the second gold medal Korea has won, after claiming the title at the tournament in Hiroshima, Japan in 1994. In the history of the women’s tournament of the Asian Games, only three teams – China, Japan and Korea - have won the crown. The women's tournament was dominated by Japan in the early stages of the competition, with Japan winning five titles from 1962 to 1978. China, however, are the most successful team. From 1982 onwards, China claimed all the gold medals, except in the 1994 competition when Korea were victorious.

In the gold medal match, Korea downed China 3-0 (25-20, 25-13, 25-21); Thailand defeated Japan to win bronze 3-0 (25-17, 25-22, 25-23).

In the 5th to 8th place playoff matches, Chinese Taipei beat Kazakhstan 3-0 (25-17, 25-17, 25-19) to finish fifth and Hong Kong outclassed India 3-0 (25-16, 28-26, 25-18) to finish 7th. The Maldives finished bottom in the nine-team women’s competition.

Gold medal match: Korea v China 3-0

With all their key players available, Korea put on a strong performance. China's top players are absent from the Asian Games because they are participating in the FIVB Volleyball Women's World Championship in Italy, and seemed out of form, losing the match in only one hour and 23 minutes.

Two Korean players' scoring went into double figures, with Jim Yeonkoung amassing 26 points, all from attacking, and Jim Heejin adding 16, including 13 attacks, two blocks and one ace. China’s Zhang Changning was the best scorer for China with 22 points. No other Chinese player scored more than six points.

Korea were dominant in attack (49-33). They also had the advantage in blocks (8-5) and serves (3-0).

China started the first set with a 5-8 deficit, due to unsteady receiving. After a quick adjustment, China chased back to 10-12 following attacks from their top scorer Zhang Changning. But Korea responded with direct kills, counterattacks and blocks. Kim Yeonkoung and Kim Heejin each spiked three points, and the gap widened to 16-11 at the second technical timeout. China won back two points, forcing Korea to call a timeout, after which Korea extended the deficit to six points at 19-13. Korea managed to keep their lead, mainly due to their powerful attacking and a series of serving errors by China. The set ended with Kim Yeonkoung’s attack.

China started the second set well with a 4-1 lead, forcing Korean coach Lee Sungoo to call a timeout. A Korean service error and two spikes by Liu Yanhan helped China to an 8-5 lead. After the first technical timeout, the Chinese players seemed to lose their marks, droping seven consecutive points and falling behind to 9-16 at the second technical timeout. Korea took the initiative, combining hard-hitting Kim Yeonkoung’s sharp spikes at the post and powerful Kim Heejin’s fast attacks with solid blocks to take the set 25-13.

Despite losing the first two sets, China fought back in the third set. Zhang Changning scored three points through thunderous attacks, leading 4-0, 8-3 and 11-5. Korea, however, gradually recovered their form to make a comeback. This time, 21-year-old spiker Park Jeongah stood out with three successful drops. Then Kim Heejin added four points with mighty kills, giving Korea three points and helping her team from 9-13 down to a 16-13 lead. Under pressure from Jim Yeonkoung’s breathtaking spikes, China continued to make serving and receiving errors. Korea now had a 22-18 lead. Their almost flawless attacking crushed China’s unsteady defending. Korea snatched the set with a spike by Kim Heejin at 25-21, and seized the victory.

Bronze medal match: Thailand v Japan 3-0

In the bronze medal match, Thailand were victorious against Japan 3-0 (25-22, 25-17, 25-22) in 81 minutes.

In the first set, powerful serves by Sittirak Onuma and sharp blocking helped Thailand to take a 5-0 lead. The gap was widened with fast set play by Tomkom Nootsara. Continous attacks gave Thailand the first set 25-17.

Encouraged by the cheerful crowd, Thailand also led the second set from the beginning. Thailand combined attacks with digs to score points. Their well-organised teamwork eventually put Thailand at 25-22.

The third set was a closer affair. Thai captain Apinyapong Wilavan displayed her attacking ability, causing Japan difficulties. But Japan did not give up. Chasing closely, they matched Thailand. But Thailand’s serves and overwhelming attacks drove Japan into a corner. Wilavan's spike clinched the set and the bronze medal for Thailand.

Apinyapong Wikavan was the match's top scorer with 15 points, out of which 14 points came from attacks. She was well supported by Nuekjang Thatdao with 13 points and Sittirak Onuma with 10 points.Takahashi Saori led the Japanese scoring chart with 14 points and her teammate Sakamoto Nanaka added 10.

Thailand out-scored Japan in all areas, topping Japan with a 48-44 advantage in kills, 7-5 in blocks and 3-1 in serves.

Meanwhile, Chinese Taipei defeated Kazakhstan 3-0 (25-17, 28-17, 25-19) in the playoff for fifth place and Hong Kong downed India in straight sets 3-0 (25-16, 28-26, 25-18) to finish seventh.

Match results for finals on October 2

Gold medal match: Korea v China 3-0 (25-20, 25-13, 25-21)

Bronze medal match: Thailand v Japan 3-0 (25-17, 25-22, 25-23)

5th place playoff match: Chinese Taipei v Kazakhstan 3-0 (25-17, 25-17, 25-19)

7th place playoff match: Hong Kong v India 3-0 (25-16, 28-26, 25-18)

Final rankings

1. Korea

2. China

3. Thailand

4. Japan

5. Chinese Taipei

6. Kazakhstan

7. Hong Kong

8. India

9. Maldives


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