Chinese Taipei, China, Korea and Thailand top their pools
At Nakhon Pathom Gymnasium
In a crucial encounter to determine the Pool D winners, Chinese Taipei produced a magnificent come-from-behind 27-29, 25-19, 18-25, 25-21, 15-8 victory over the FIVB world No.7 Japan.
It was sweet revenge of the Taiwanese players, who lost to the same rivals in the 2008 final clash on their home soil. The stunning victory also defied all odds as local enthusiasts earlier predicted that the match would end in three sets in favour of the Japanese.
In the first set, Japan and Chinese Taipei came out in similar style – both displaying their characteristic power-and-speed tactics at the net. The impeccable defence and the never-say-die attitude of both sides made the on-going battle the most thrilling so far in the 16-team tournament.
Initially, the five-time champions Japan got off to a confident start, with hard-hitting Sakura Doi and Aimi Akiyama penetrating the Taiwanese defence with their aggressive spikes to put the team in front 9-4. However, Chinese Taipei counter-attacked well to catch them at 9-9 and then surged ahead 10-9.
From then on, both teams played every part of the game well. As Japan launched a series of fierce attacks, the Taiwanese defence were almost impenetrable.
During the hotly-contested battle, Chinese Taipei’s Tseng Wan-Ling injured her right ankle, but did not want to give up. The spirited spiker overcame her agony to continue the fight, which saw her land on the ground with a distorted face every time she jumped for spiking and blocking. Head coach Lo Chung-Jen allowed her to continue as she became a scoring machine for the team.
Chinese Taipei won a crucial point to lead narrowly at 24-23, needing only one more point to win the set. Japan played cool under pressure to close the margin 24-24 and from then, leads changed hands several times. After a long rally, Japan took the hard-fought thriller 29-27.
Chinese Taipei regrouped for a strong challenge in the second set. Their determination worked out pretty well when they took the set 25-19 before Japan made amends to win the third set 25-18. Chinese Taipei stormed back to clinch the fourth set 25-21 and maintained their poise to win the do-or-die tie-breaker 15-8.
Wu Wei-Hua top scored for Chinese Taipei with 17 points, helped by 11 points from Tseng Wan-Ling’s kills and an additional five from her scintillating blocking. Sakura Doi emerged as Japan’s best scorer, bagging 21 points.
“I’m very happy for the win. Everyone played well. Credits for our win went to Tseng Wan-Ling. Despite the ankle injury, she never gave up. I asked her to leave the court in order that I could replace her with another one. She denied. We just let her do that because we learned she could handle it and our team could beat Japan in this form,” said Chinese Taipei’s Lo Chung-Jen.
“Now, we have to focus on the next round, in which we will take on China and India in Pool F. It’s quite difficult to play China because they are very tall and much stronger than us. However, we will do our best out there,” he added.
Earlier, in-form Australia outclassed inexperienced Turkmenistan in comfortable straight sets (25-12, 25-11, 25-11) for their first win of the championship.
Jessyka Ngauamo won 11 points for Australia, while Medine Achilova got five points for Turkmenistan, including three from blocking and one from a well-placed serve.
At the end of the Pool D preliminaries, Chinese Taipei emerged in the pole position with eight points from straight three wins. Japan, having two wins against one loss, came in second place, just one point behind. Australia finished third with three points from one win and two losses, and winless Turkmenistan were in fourth place.
After two straight victories over Mongolia and Vietnam in the previous matches, on Wednesday China again displayed their dominance as they took India to school with their brilliance and exceptional techniques.
The FIVB world No.1 China, who finished third at the previous FIVB World Junior Women’s Championship in Peru, allowed their much-lowered-ranked opponents only 24 points to wrap up the lop-sided battle in 54 minutes.
China fielded a full-fledged roster in the first two sets which included Zheng Yixin, Zhu Ting, Tang Ningya and the 193cm-tall Xu Ruayo. After winning the first two sets 25-9 and 25-7 without much difficulty, China rested their best players and instead fielded substitutions including Wang Fengjiao, Yang Fangxu and Li Weiwei to comfortably capture the third set 25-8.
Wang Ning led China with 12 points, with Nishya Joseph bagged six points for India.
“I’m glad that my team won again. We played to our training level. Our next round will be tough against Chinese Taipei and Japan, but I’m convinced that my team will try their best to beat them all. Thursday is the rest day, but we go nowhere. We have to focus on our training. Our aim in this tournament remains unchanged – making it to the final match and beating our rivals in that match to retain our title,” commented China’s head coach Xu Jiande.
The other match saw Vietnam enjoy their first win in this tournament after recovering from the first-set loss 20-25 to Mongolia to take the remaining sets 25-20, 25-14 and 25-11.
Duong Thi Nhan won 22 points for Vietnam, while Ganbold Enkhnaran top scored for Mongolia with 16 points.
At the end of the Pool B preliminaries, China were the pool winners with nine points from three straight wins, followed by India with six points from two wins and one loss. Vietnam came in third place with three points from one win against two losses and lacklustre Mongolia finish fourth following a disappointing no-win performance.
At Ratchaburi Gymnasium
The host side needed only 44 minutes to crush Kuwait in a completely one-sided encounter (25-3, 25-2, 25-4).
After winning the first set with ease, Thailand rested their best players and replaced them with substitutions including Khatthalee Pinsuwan, Chutikarn Polchai and Laddawan Pojan to take the following two sets, again without any trouble.
Kuttika Kaewpin top scored for Thailand with 20 points, while Shatha Ai-huneidi bagged only two points for the young, inexperienced Kuwait.
In the other match, Iran came from nowhere to stun New Zealand in straight sets (25-11, 25-16, 25-22). Neda Chamlanian scored 16 points for Iran. Beniece Douch emerged as the top scorer for New Zealand, taking nine points including five from deadly attacks.
After three days of the Pool A preliminaries, hosts Thailand topped the pool as expected – collecting nine points from straight three wins. Iran had six points from two wins against one loss to finish in second place. New Zealand came in third position with three points from one win against two losses, while Kuwait did not win a match and finished in fourth place.
Korea, the FIVB world No.19 which finished runners-up to eventual winners China in the previous edition in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam two years ago, fielded the same line-up in all three sets to demolish Kazakhstan 25-17, 25-12, 25-17.
Shin Yeon-gyeong and Lee Jae-yeong became the team’s mainstays, carrying Korea through the first two set wins. Kazakhstan came back much stronger in the third, hoping to regain the impressive form that had won them their first two matches.
But their all-out attempts were in vain as Korea performed superbly to baffle the opposition.
Shin Yeo-gyeong scored 13 points for Korea, while Kazakhstan got 10 points from Ardak Maratova.
The other Pool C tussle saw Hong Kong survive a sturdy challenge from Sri Lanka to beat the fighting rivals in straight sets (25-22, 26-24, 25-22).
Koo Yung Yung scored 14 points for Hong Kong, while Dilka Siriwardana top scored for Sri Lanka with 10 points.
At the conclusion of the Pool C preliminaries, Korea captured the top spot with nine points from three straight wins. Kazakhstan came in second place with six points from two wins and one loss. Hong Kong collected three points from one win and two losses, and winless Sri Lanka finished fourth.
The competition resumes on Friday with the top two teams from each pool contesting the play-offs for 1st to 8th places in Pool E and Pool F, while the lower-ranked two teams from each pool have been relegated to the 9th to 16th place classification round.
In Nakhon Pathom
Pool B: China v India 3-0 (25-9, 25-7, 25-8); Vietnam v Mongolia 3-1 (20-25, 25-20, 25-14, 25-11)
Pool D: Australia v Turkmenistan 3-0 (25-12, 25-11, 25-11); Chinese Taipei v Japan 3-2 (27-29, 25-19 18-25, 25-21, 15-8)
Pool A: Thailand v Kuwait 3-0 (25-3, 25-2, 25-4); Iran v New Zealand 3-0 (25-11, 25-16, 25-22)
Pool C: Hong Kong v Sri Lanka 3-0 (25-22, 26-24, 25-22); Korea v Kazakhstan 3-0 (25-17, 25-12, 25-17)
Team rankings after conclusion of round-robin preliminaries
Pool A: 1. Thailand 9 points; 2. Iran 6 points; 3. New Zealand 3 points; 4. Kuwait 0 points
Pool B: 1. China 9 points; 2. India 6 points; 3. Vietnam 3 points; 4. Mongolia 0 points
Pool C: 1. Korea 9 points; 2. Kazakhstan 6 points; 3. Hong Kong 3 points; 4. Sri Lanka 0 points
Pool D: 1. Chinese Taipei 8 points; 2. Japan 7 points; 3. Australia 3 points; 4. Turkmenistan 0 points
In Nakhon Pathom
12.00pm: New Zealand v Sri Lanka
2pm: Hong Kong v Kuwait
4pm: Thailand v Kazakhstan
6pm: Korea v Iran
12.00pm: Vietnam v Turkmenistan
2pm: Australia v Mongolia
4pm: China v Japan
6pm: Chinese Taipei v India