China reign supreme at 16th Asian Junior Women’s Championship
China’s scintillating 25-18, 25-15, 25-9 win in the final clash against Chinese Taipei, the team they had beaten in straight sets in their Pool F playoffs earlier, gave them an amazing 10th title in the biennial tournament inaugurated in 1980 in Seoul, Korea.
China, the FIVB world No.1 who finished third at the last year’s world junior meet in Peru, have dominated thi Asian juniors since winning their first championship in 1992 in Kuala Lumpur.
China, using the advantage of a 186cm average height (against Chinese Taipei’s 172cm), took control of the first set. The 192cm Zhu Ting and the 187cm Zheng Yixin established the Chinese blocking game, giving their smaller-built rivals a tough time scoring, while the 193cm Xu Ruayo produced powerful back-row attacks to help China take the first set 25-18.
Chinese Taipei, receiving a huge boost from a strong cheering section at the competition venue, mounted a tight defence in the second set. Still, China read their rivals’ game well and continued their onslaughts. Zhu Ting displayed her majestic talent through powerful jump serves, tearing Chinese Taipei’s defence into shreds. China took a commanding 13-6 lead.
Chinese Taipei, powered by Lee Yu, found their rhythm briefly in the middle of the set, but their surge was short-lived as China stormed on mightily with their power and height at the net to clinch the 25-15 win.
The third set turned into a totally one-sided affair. Zhu Ting, whose spikes caught Chinese Taipei flat-footed several times, unleashed a barrage of spectacular spikes from all sides, while Xu Ruayo carried out terrific jump serves. China led from the beginning to capture the set 25-9 and win the championship.
Following the victory, the Chinese players jumped for joy. They cheerfully ran around in circles hugging one another, then ran around the stadium. They lined up in front of the Thai fans seated on each side of the venue, raised their arms up and bowed their heads to them.
China’s Zhu Ting, an 18-year-old from Henan, scored a match-high 19 points including 15 kills and four scintillating blocks. Lee Yu top scored for Chinese Taipei with 11 points.
“I’m glad that we successfully defended our title. We played well up to our level, while Chinese Taipei also fought hard with their good tactics. However, we still have many things to learn in preparation for the next year’s world meet in Czech Republic,” said China coach Xu Jiande.
In a rematch of the 2010 third-place final, Japan shattered the home enthusiasts’ high hopes to see their team step onto the top-three podium when they overcame Thailand in a hard-fought five-set thriller (25-22, 20-25, 23-25, 25-18, 15-11) to claim third place in the nine-day competition.
Japan, disappointed by a bitter 1-3 loss to China in the semi-finals the previous day, played exceptionally well and took the first set 25-22 before the host side hit back gallantly to snatch the second 25-20.
Cheered on by noisy, drum-beating, screaming home fans, Thailand continued their consistent play and bagged the close third set 25-23 to take a 2-1 advantage.
It was apparent that the Japanese had plenty of individual talent in their squad and would not give in. They mixed the offensive mobility of Yuki Yamagami’s solid blocking and devastating spikes by Momoka Oda and Aya Horie to take the remaining two sets 25-18 and 15-11. The hard-fought win gave Japan an opportunity to maintain the third place they achieved in the previous edition two years ago in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.
Momoka Oda led Japan with 20 points, while Kuttika Kaewpin scored 17 points for Thailand.
“Despite the loss, I’m happy with my team’s form. We played much better than in the previous two matches against India and Chinese Taipei. We still have many things to improve, especially our setter and the poor reception. Despite a failure to make it to the final, we feel happy that our target in this championship was fulfilled – to finish among top four and win a berth for the next year’s world meet,” said Thai head coach Nathapon Srisamutnak.
The playoffs at the Ratchaburi Gymnasium saw Korea, runners-up to China in 2010, thrash India in straight sets (25-23, 25-12, 25-19) to clinch the fifth spot in this championship. Seventh position went to Kazakhstan following a dramatic 3-2 (23-25, 25-19, 19-25, 27-25, 16-14) win in their closely-contested clash with Iran.
7th-8th place playoff: Kazakhstan v Iran 3-2 (23-25, 25-19, 19-25, 27-25, 16-14)
5th-6th place playoff: Korea v India 3-0 (25-23, 25-12, 25-19)
Third-place playoff: Japan v Thailand 3-2 (25-22, 20-25, 23-25, 25-18, 15-11)
Championship match: China v Chinese Taipei 3-0 (25-18, 25-15, 25-9)
*2. Chinese Taipei
11. Hong Kong
12. New Zealand
13. Sri Lanka
* Teams qualified for the 2013 FIVB Women's U20 World Championship in the Czech Republic
Best Spiker: Lee Yu No.4 Chinese Taipei
Best Blocker: Zheng Yixin No.2 China
Best Server: Tang Ningya No.5 China
Best Setter: Yuki Yamagami No.7 Japan
Best Scorer: Kuttika Kaewpin No.6 Thailand
Best Libero: Huang Shih-Ting No.18 Chinese Taipei
MVP: Zhu Ting No.4 China