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Japan stun China in showdown to clinch final Youth Olympics berth

Japan celebrate winning a point in the Asian Youth Girls' Volleyball Championship.
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, May 28, 2010 – Japan stunned rivals China in the 8th Asian Youth Girls’ Volleyball Championship final after beating them in a breathless 3-0 (25-21 25-20 25-14) win, clinching the final berth for the inaugural Youth Olympic Games.

Japan will now join Belgium, Egypt, Peru, Singapore and USA in Singapore from August 21-26 to compete in the first Youth Olympic Games. Additionally, Japan, as well as China and bronze medallists Thailand, qualify for the FIVB Girls’ Youth Volleyball World Championship next year.

It is the fourth time Japan has won the championship after victories in 1997, 2007 and 2008. However it is the second time in as many years that China will leave the Asian Youth Girls’ Volleyball Championship heartbroken after they also lost to Japan in the finals in Manila, Philippines two years ago.

Japan attacked from the off and the combination of thundering left-handed spikes from Mari Horikawa and scintillating blocks from Azusa Futami and Yumiko Mochimaru ensured the first two sets were secure. China rallied desperately to try and gain some composure in the third set but by that point Japan had found its rhythm and they went on to win the set 25-14 and with that, the title.

“It’s a tough match. I’m very happy that my team retained the title,” Japan coach Yoshiki Ogawa said following the victory. “The Chinese are very strong and powerful, but our impenetrable defence is also a winning factor. Libero (Sumiko) Mori did her job well in the match. Everyone in my team did her part, concentrating on her game. The excellent teamwork worked out well.”

“I think it was an expected win,” the coach added. “We said before the match that if we won the first set, it would help boost my girls’ confidence to win.”

In the third-place play-off, Thailand added to the bronze medal they won two years ago by beating Korea 3-1 (25-13, 26-24, 21-25, 25-17) to clinch third place.

Earlier in the day Australia beat hosts Malaysia 3-0 (25-10, 25-20, 25-19) to clinch seventh while Chinese Taipei beat Kazakhstan for the second time in the tournament, claiming fifth in straight sets (25-17, 25-12, 26-24).
Friday’s results
7th-8th places: Australia b Malaysia 3-0 (25-10 25-20 25-19)
5th-6th places: Chinese Taipei b Kazakhstan 3-0 (25-17 25-12 26-24)
Bronze-medal match: Thailand b Korea 3-1 (25-13 26-24 21-25 25-17)
Championship match: Japan b China 3-0 (25-21 25-20 25-14)

Team ranking
1. Japan
2. China
3. Thailand
4. Korea
5. Chinese Taipei
6. Kazakhstan
7. Australia
8. Malaysia
9. Iran
10. Vietnam
11. New Zealand
12. Singapore
13. India

Individual awards
Best Attacker: Fumika Moriya (Japan)
Best Blocker: Liu Yanhan (China)
Best Server: Liu Mingjuan (China)
Best Setter: Yukiko Yanagidani (Japan)
Best Scorer: Park Jeong-Ah (Korea)
Best Libero: Sumiko Mori (Japan)
MVP:  Mari Horikawa (Japan)
Most Promising Local Talent: Yew Sook Ting (Malaysia)


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