China, Korea, Kazakhstan remain on course, as hosts upset Japan in Asian Senior Women’s Championship
Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand, September 16, 2013 – Defending champions China, South Korea and Kazakhstan continued their remarkable unbeaten record. Hosts, Thailand stunned world No.3 Japan in the 17th Asian Senior Women’s Volleyball Championship at Chatchai Hall on Monday.
In-form Thailand capped a flawless performance to stun the London Olympics bronze medallists, Japan in a hotly-contested four set match, keeping alive their hopes of advancing to the semi-finals in the 17th edition of the tournament on home soil.
A dramatic 3-1 (25-15, 25-23, 23-25, 30-28) victory over Japan, the 2007 Asian winners who took a well-deserved fourth place at the recent World Grand Prix, was sweet revenge for Thailand.
This was Thailand’s first win against Japan who they have played a total of three times this year. World No. 16, Thailand, lost in straight sets to the well-established Japanese in the World Grand Prix Preliminaries in early August in Turkey and the Thais faced a similar fortune when they were beaten by hosts Japan at the World Championship Qualification Asian Zone Final Round in Komaki earlier this month.
Against the formidable Japanese, Thailand (last year’s AVC Cup winners and the 2009 Asian champions) got off to a commanding 12-1 lead in the first set on account of Onuma Sittirak’s spectacular attacks and the team’s splendid combination. The host side wrapped up the set comfortably with a 25-15 win.
The second set was more thrilling as Japan fought back aggressively. However, Thailand, cheered on by a large number of home spectators packing the Chatchai Hall, held their nerve and continued to show a never-say-die attitude. Their determination was handsomely rewarded when they clinched the second set 25-23.
Japan, powered by one of the world’s attackers Saori Kimura, who won the Best Scorer Award in the 2010 World Grand Prix and who led Japan to win the 2007 Asian crown in Thailand, stormed back mightily to take the third set 25-23.
The fourth set saw Thailand in a gutsy display, chasing Japan for each point after trailing 11-16 to win the see-saw battle 30-28 and the tough encounter.
Onuma Sittirak led Thailand with 26 points including 22 attack hits from 54 attempts, while Yukiko Ebata scored a match-high of 25 points for Japan.
The win over Japan has brightened up Thailand’s chances of advancing to the semi-finals.After the match, Thailand’s head coach Kiattipong Radchatagriengkai expressed satisfaction with his team’s performance.
“My players trusted in their belief. They strongly believed that they can beat Japan and that’s what counts. After we lost to Kazakhstan on the first day, we learned from those mistakes we made and we tried to improve our game. My team played with more confidence, trying to reduce the unforced mistakes. Against Vietnam in our next match, we have to do our best. We can’t underestimate any team. Our fortunes have been improving significantly now.”
Japan’s head coach Manabe Masayashi also praised the Thai players. “Thailand played exceptionally well. They attacked hard with good teamwork and consistency, while my players lost concentration.”
Tall Kazakhstan struggled to beat battling Vietnam in hard-fought three sets
Unbeaten Kazakhstan (world No.28 which finished a disappointing ninth place in the previous episode of the tournament in Taipei two years ago) utilised their height advantage to attack and block effectively, brushing off Vietnam in a closely-contested three-set thriller 3-0 (25-21, 25-23, 25-22).
Kazakhstan’s tall and towering line-up was led by Tatyana Mudritskaya, who was born in Ukraine and played with Asado Anorthosis Famagusta Club in the 2013 CEV Challenge Cup, while world No.93 Vietnam were represented mostly by veterans who have been part of the national team for several years including Nguyen Thi Ngoc Hoa, Bui Thi Nga, Pham Thi Yen and Nguyen Thi Xuan.
Kazakhstan, with their height average of 183cm against their oppositions’ 176cm, started confidently after their straight three victories to top Pool A in the pool round-robin preliminaries. Mudritskaya uncorked a barrage of sharp cross-court spikes to help Kazakhstan win the opening set 25-21.
After conceding one set, Vietnam heightened their defence in the second set, with Pham Thi Yen and Nguyen Thi Hgoc Hoa taking turns penetrating the Kazakh defence with their explosive attacks. Nguyen Thi Ngoc Hoa also shone through her blocking ability, foiling Mudritskaya’s attacking attempts several times during the attention grabbing 23-23 equaliser.
However, Kazakhstan still had enough left in their tank. Sana Jarlagassova became another major force on Kazakhstan team to be reckoned with in this prestigious tournament as she attacked devastatingly from all angles to help her team win the close second set 25-23.
The third set followed a similar script with Kazakhstan taking command from the beginning. Vietnam caught up with Kazakhstan at 20-20, but the Kazakhs never gave up easily. Mudritskaya tore the Vietnamese defence apart with her lightning-fast spikes for Kazakhstan’s eventual 25-22 win in the set and the thrilling encounter.
As expected, Tatyana Mudritskaya led Kazakhstan with 18 points including 14 kills from 35 determined attempts, while Nguyen ThiNgoc Hoa topscored with 14 points for Vietnam.
Invincible China overwhelmed Chinese Taipei with height and powerTitle-holders and world No.5 China defeated Chinese Taipei easily 3-0 (25-11, 25-14, 25-11).
China played without their middle blocker Yang Junjing, who sustained an injury to her right ankle in their previous match against the Philippines.
China, who was a whisker away from winning this year’s World Grand Prix title losing to Brazil in the finals, fielded an offensive line up including captain Hui Ruoqi, Xu Yunli and Ma Yunwen in the opener and the second set, which they won comfortably.
In the third set, they rested Yin Na and Zeng Chunlei and replaced them with Zhu Ting and Zhang Lei. Still, the Chinese remained strong offensively, with Zhu Ting carrying out her aggressive attacks from behind. China took the third set without any problem.
Zeng Chunlei emerged as the top scorer for China with 13 points. She claimed nine points, as did Hui Ruoqi, with her attack hits. Zeng led with her serves scoring three ace serves, while Hui claimed two points from her powerful jump serves.
“Our next match against South Korea will be a tough task. The Koreans are very strong, with No.10 Kim (Yeon-Koung) being the team’s super star. We have yet to play a strong team in this tournament and from Tuesday onwards, daunting tasks await us starting with the first clash with South Korea. We have to do our best, anyway,” said China’s legendary coach Lang Ping after the team’s victory.
South Korea fly past fighting Iran in straight sets
World No.10 South Korea had few problems taking on fast-improving Iran in a straight-set affair 3-0 (25-14, 25-10, 25-18).
Hard-attacking Kim Yeon-Koung remained the backbone of the Korean team in this match against Iran, which was spearheaded by Mahsa Saberi.
South Korea used their exceptional offensive mobility of spectacular attacks from Kim Yeon-Koung and Han Song-Yl and scintillating blocks by Kim Yeon-Koung and Kim Hee-Jin to take the first two sets.
Iran got their act together in the third set, with Mahsa Saberi overcoming the Korean blockers with her fierce attacks. However, despite their determination and courage in the set, Iran found the Koreans too strong to go down fighting.
Kim Yeon-Koung was South Korea’s top scorer with 19 points including 15 devastating spikes and three block, while Mahsa Saberi topscored with 11 points for Iran.
“I’m glad that my team won again. We go up next against China, which are a very strong team. The Chinese players are very tall and highly-skilled. To match them tactically and beat them is not that easy. We have to work much harder in our preparation for a tough match against them. Our chances of beating China is just 50-50,” said South Korea’s team manager Joo Dongwook.
9th – 16th classification round
In Pool G, Australia struggled hard to beat Hong Kong in a gruelling five set match (23-25, 25-9, 24-26, 25-21, 15-9) while Indonesia powered past Mongolia in dramatic four set win 3-1 (25-18, 18-25, 25-18, 25-23).
The Pool H encounters saw Myanmar pull off a surprise 3-2 (25-23, 22-25, 25-22, 19-25, 15-12) win over India and the Philippines come from behind to beat Sri Lanka in an exhausting five sets 3-2 (19-25, 25-18, 19-25, 25-23, 15-11).
Monday’s pool round-robin results
Tuesday, September 17
Pool round-robin quarter-finals (Chatchai Hall)
11:00: Iran v Chinese Taipei
Pool round-robin 9th-16th classification (MCC Hall)
11:00: Mongolia v Hong Kong