Top teams enjoy comfortable start of Asian Junior Women’s Championship
At Nakhon Pathom Gymnasium
Reigning and nine-time champions China fielded a strong team against Mongolia. The FIVB world No.1 used their height advantage to attack aggressively at the net, with the 193cm-tall Xu Ruayo tearing the Mongolian defence apart with her exceptional spikes.
Mongolia played to their level, but proved no match for the much stronger Chinese, who came out with fantastic offensive combinations led by Xu’s powerful jump serves and spectacular spikes.
After conceding the first two sets 9-25 and 10-25, the Mongolians found China impossible to crack and fell 7-25 in the third set. Tang Ningya bagged 16 points for China, while Ganbold Enkhnaran top-scored for Mongolia with six points, all of them from devastating attacks.
“I’m happy that my team won the first match here. We played at our training level. In preparation for our title defence here, we have trained intensively for three months,” said China coach Xu Jiande. “My team also had a chance to sharpen our skills against European counterparts. We travelled to Belgium, Italy and Germany for warm-up matches against their national junior teams. I’d set two targets in this tournament – securing a final berth and beating our rivals in the final clash.”
After winning their thrilling first set against Vietnam 25-19, India played more confidently in the second set, with Athira Chalingal Chand showing her grit in attacking aggressively and Nishya Joseph producing scintillating blocking.
Vietnam put their act together hoping to make amends for the loss in the first set, and caught up with the Indians at 14-14 thanks largely to Ha Ngoc Diem’s spikes. Still, India had enough to hold their less-trained rivals off, widening the gap to 17-15 and then 23-20. They never looked back from then on, taking the set 25-20.
India took control in the third set, building a 23-14 lead before Vietnam fought back to win three straight points and come close at 17-23. However, India bagged the remaining two points for the eventual 25-18 win in the set.
Athira Chalingal Chand led India with 16 points, while Ha Ngoc Diem emerged as the Vietnam’s top scorer with 14 points.
Chinese Taipei, led by the hard-hitting Wu Wei-Hua and Lee Yu, started an attack right from the whistle. The inexperienced Turkmenis tried to match their much stronger rivals, but Chinese Taipei took the effortless first set 25-8.
Chinese Taipei remained in superb form in the following two sets, winning 25-8 and 25-5 with the help of exceptional spiking tactics. Chinese Taipei finally wrapped up the completely one-sided encounter to collect three points from their first win in the 16-team tournament.
Wu Wei-Hua led Chinese Taipei with 19 points, including 18 deadly spikes. Aziza Narbayeva top-scored for Turkmenistan with five points.
Japan, the FIVB world No.7 and former five-time champions, came up with a fast game against the taller Aussies, who used their height advantage to effectively block and attack at the net.
Japan took the offensive with a combination of lightning spikes from the powerful Aya Horie and Aimi Akiyama to help win the first set 25-17.
Australia improved their blocking tactics in the second set, foiling their rivals’ determined attacking attempts. As the Japanese were stronger in offence, the defence proved a major force for the Aussies.
After a long rally, Australia regained their composure to narrow the gap to 10-12. However, they became more prone to serving errors, allowing their rivals to widen the gap to 16-10 and then 20-13 before winning the set 25-15.
The third set followed a similar script, with Japan in their spiking rhythm and Australia relying on their defence. The Japanese took the set 25-15 and won the thrilling match.
Aya Horie top-scored with 11 points for Japan and Jessyka Ngauamo led Australia with 12 points.
At Ratchaburi Gymnasium
In what amounted to a near-flawless performance, New Zealand played impressively against inexperienced rivals Kuwait to record an easy win.
After taking the first set 25-5, the Kiwis continued their aggression in the following two sets. The 188cm Amelia Hunter used her height advantage to overcome the small blockers with her fierce spikes and lead New Zealand through a 25-8 second-set win.
The third set became a totally one-sided affair. As the inexperienced Kuwait showed their below-par reception and erratic play, New Zealand grew dominant in their attacking and great serves. They allowed their small-built rivals only two points, winning the set 25-2 and ending the lop-sided battle.
Beniece Dough top-scored for New Zealand with 14 points. Amelia Hunter recorded 10 points from ace spikes. Lauren Meyer, Dayna McGregor and Beniece Dough gave the team seven, six and five points from their well-placed serves.
Shatha Al-huneidi won three points for Kuwait.
Thailand, who finished in fourth place at the previous edition in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, two years ago, entertained the cheering home crowd with their superb form.
The host side took their first set against Iran 25-8, courtesy of devastating spikes from Kuttika Kaewpin and Ajcharaporn Kongyot. Holding a one-set advantage, Thailand remained in awesome form in the second. They effectively foiled the visitors’ attacking attempts and won 25-4.
Iran regrouped to bounce back bravely in the third set, but their reception was still far from impressive. Thailand captured the set, by 25-10, and the match.
Kuttika Kaewpin claimed 12 points for Thailand, while Neda Chamlanian scored six for Iran.
Kazakhstan, which arrived in Nakhon Pathom a week early to compete in warm-up matches during the South East Asian Junior Women’s Championship, fielded a tall line-up led by the 185cm Lrina Chumak.
Though smaller in size, Hong Kong played cool under pressure in the first set. Mang Lee and Mui Pik Sum unleashed a barrage of fierce attacks. But the Kazakhs’ blocking was just too good for them and Kazakhstan took the thrilling opener 25-21.
After overcoming their rivals’ strong challenge in the first set, Kazakhstan found their rhythm in the remaining sets. Despite putting up a brave fight, Hong Kong went down 14-25 and 16-25 in the second and third sets.
Anastassiya Rostovchshidova emerged as Kazakhstan’s top scorer after winning 19 points, while Mang Lee claimed six points for Hong Kong.
Korea, the FIVB world No.19 who finished second to China in the previous edition, got off to a flying start with a straight-set 25-16, 25-9, 25-12 victory over Sri Lanka.
Korea set the pace in the first set, with Lee Jae-yeon and Shin Yeon-yeong taking turns producing fierce attacks at the net. Sri Lanka responded with sharp spikes by Wasana Perera Thilini. However, it wasn’t enough to match the mighty Koreans, who won the set 25-16.
Sri Lanka tried to improve their first-ball reception in the following sets, but their efforts were in vain. The Koreans continued their remarkable run with powerful serves from Lee Da-yeong and Hwang Yoon-jung and explosive attacks by Lee Jae-yeong. Korea captured both sets 25-9 and 25-12 for a comfortable victory.
Hwang Yoon-Jung led Korea with 10 points, while Wasana Perera Thilini claimed seven points for Sri Lanka.
In Nakhon Pathom
Pool B: China v Mongolia 3-0 (25-9 25-10 25-7); India v Vietnam 3-0 (25-19 25-20 25-18)
Pool D: Chinese Taipei v Turkmenistan 3-0 (25-8 25-8 25-5); Japan v Australia 3-0 (25-17 25-15 25-15)
Pool A: New Zealand v Kuwait 3-0 (25-5 25-8 25-2); Thailand v Iran 3-0 (25-8 25-4 25-10)
Pool C: Kazakhstan v Hong Kong 3-0 (25-21 25-14 25-16); Korea v Sri Lanka 3-0 (25-16 25-9 25-12)
In Nakhon Pathom
12pm: Mongolia v India
2pm: Chinese Taipei v Australia
4pm: Turkmenistan v Japan
6pm: China v Vietnam
12pm: Kazakhstan v Sri Lanka
2pm: Iran v Kuwait
4pm: Hong Kong v Korea
6pm: New Zealand v Thailand