Bangkok, Thailand, August 22, 2013 - Indomitable China, the only undefeated team advancing to the 2013 World Grand Prix Finals in Sapporo, Japan, will defend their title in the 17th Asian Senior Women’s Volleyball Championship in Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand from September 13 to 21.
The nine-day top-flight competition serves as qualification tournaments for three major events. The eventual winners will represent Asia in the FIVB World Grand Champions’ Cup to be held in Japan in November, while top two teams (excluding automatic qualifiers China and Japan) will make the cut for the next year’s FIVB World Grand Prix. The best-ranked eight teams in the Asian meet will also receive the green light to compete in the next year’s AVC Cup for Women.
China, which have confirmed their best ever start to this year’s World Grand Prix with straight nine victories, will test their mettle against 15 teams including hosts and the AVC Cup winners Thailand, the team they lost 1-3 in the final showdown of the 15th Asian meet in Hanoi, Vietnam four years ago.
China, No.5 in the FIVB world ranking and 12-time Asian champions, are in Pool B with Iran, the Philippines and India. Pool A consists of hosts Thailand, Kazakhstan, Australia and Mongolia, with world No.3 and London Olympic bronze medalists Japan, Vietnam, Indonesia and Hong Kong in Pool C. Pool D comprises South Korea, Chinese Taipei, Myanmar and Sri Lanka.
The group round-robin preliminaries will simultaneously take place at the 5,000-seater Chatchai Hall, the main competing venue for the recent Girls’ U18 Worlds, and the 3,000-seater MCC Hall inside The Mall Nakhon Ratchasima shopping centre.
After the preliminaries, only top two teams from each pool will advance to the quarter-finals, while the remaining teams will be relegated to the 9th-16th classification round.
China will contest the 17th episode under the guidance of legendary coach Lang Ping for the first time. Spearheading the Asian powerhouses are star spiker Wang Yimei, hard-attacking Hui Ruoqi and teen prodigy Zhu Ting, who joined the China women’s national team for the first time in the World Grand Prix after she led China to capture the world crown in the Czech Republic-hosted Women’s U20 World Championship in July.
China made a clean sweep in this year’s two-phrase China International Women’s Volleyball Invitation Tournament in Ningbo and Shenzhen by beating all challengers comprising Cuba, Puerto Rico and Thailand.
The Chinese side remain the strongest team to be reckoned with in this year’s Asian Championship. However, the closest rivals can be formidable Japan, world No.3 which registered seven wins against two losses to come in sixth place overall after the preliminaries of the World Grand Prix. As China have won the Asian title for 12 times,Japan claimed three (1975, 1983, 2007) and Thailand one (2009).
The press conference on the staging of the 17th Asian Senior Women’s Volleyball Championship was held at Golden Tulip Sovereign Hotel in Bangkok, Thailand, with a large number of journalists participating. Presiding over the meeting were the organizing committee chairman and former deputy prime minister of Thailand Suwat Liptapanlop, Somporn Chaibangyang, president of the Thailand Volleyball Association, and Winai Buapradit, governor of host city Nakhon Ratchasima.
Winai Buapradit confirmed in the meeting that everything is all set for the championship and the Nakhon Ratchasima’s residents look forward to welcoming all visitors during the competition. After a great success in hosting the recent Girls’ U18 Worlds, the governor has set his sights on another memorable achievement in the Asian meet.
On September 13, the opening day of the competition, Thailand face Kazakhstan, Australia meet Mongolia, China take on Iran, the Philippines play India, Indonesia challenge Hong Kong, Japan take on Vietnam, South Korea play Myanmar and Sri Lanka meet Chinese Taipei.
China captured their 12th title in the 16th Asian meet following a sensational 3-1 win over Japan in the final clash in Chinese Taipei two years ago. South Korea took the third place after brushing off Thailand 3-2 in the playoff.
Asked about his team’s chances in the 17th Asian Championship on home soil, Thailand head coach Kiattipong Radchatagriengkai commented: “Although this is just an Asian meet and not a world-class event, it’s not that easy for us to make the final.”
“We have to do our best and make a good start in the pool play. Due to the tough challenge from several strong teams such as China, Japan and South Korea, our aim cannot be that high this time. I have set sights on my team to finish top four in this tournament.
“We still make use of our players who competed in the World Grand Prix including Onuma Sittirak, Wilavan Apinyapong, Nootsara Tomkom and Pleumjit Thinkaow. At the same time, young talents such as Thatdao Nuekjang and Atcharaporn Kongyot will also be fielded to play with senior players to obtain more valuable experiences. Chinaand Japan might be the strongest rivals to be reckoned with in the championship. However, we will try our best to fare well in every match we play.”
Ahead of the Asian meet, the Thai squad will test their mettle against hosts Japan, Vietnam, Australia and Chinese Taipei in the FIVB World Women’s Volleyball Championship Qualification Asian Zone Pool A at Park Arena in Komaki, Nagoya, Japan between September 4 and 8.
The single round-robin event will determine the top two teams to compete in the next year’s 24-team World Championship in Italy. The Pool B matches will be held inChina later in September, with other five teams including China, South Korea and Kazakhstan vying for the remaining two tickets, totaling four teams from Asia to make the cut for the next year’s world meet in Italy.