Thailand, Japan, China & Korea - Asian Women’s semifinalists
Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand, September 19, 2013 – Hosts Thailand beat Chinese Taipei in straight sets to join Japan, China and Korea as Asia’s top four to power their ways to the semi-finals at the 17th Asian Senior Women’s Volleyball Championship at Chanchai Hall on Thursday.
World No.16 and AVC Cup winners, Thailand pulled off a convincing 3-0 (25-13, 25-14, 25-23) victory over Chinese Taipei to take on China in the semi-finals. China, defending champions and world No.5, overcame Vietnam in straight sets 3-0 (25-15, 25-20, 25-13) on Thursday.
Japan, current world No.3 and the London Olympic bronze medalists, defeated Iran in 3-0 (25-16, 25-13, 25-11) to pit their expertise against world No.10 Korea. Korea fared much better in the quarter-final clash against Kazakhstan to snatch a thrilling 3-0 (25-12, 25-23, 25-20) victory.
Hosts Thailand win against Chinese Taipei in thrilling battle
In this crucial match against young and in-form Chinese Taipei, Thailand fielded a strong line-up led by powerful attacker Onuma Sittirak, Pleumjit Thinkaow and Vilawan Apinyapong. Talented southpaw Chen Wan-Ting spearheaded the smaller-built Chinese Taipei visitors.
Thailand – which overcame Chinese Taipei in a comfortable straight sets win in the 2014 World Women’s Volleyball Championship Qualification Tournament Asian Zone Final Round in Komaki, Japan early this month – dominated the first two sets, thanks to the impressive offensive combination between Onuma’s thundering spikes and solid blocks by Pleumjit and Wilavan. Thailand won the sets 25-13, 25-14 without much trouble, giving life to a large crowd of home fans packing the competition venue.
The third set was different when Chinese Taipei’s Chen Wan-Ting and Tseng Wan-Ling taking turns to penetrate the Thai defence with their aggressive attacks, Chinese Taipei clawed their way back in the set to lead the home side 17-14.
Nevertheless, Thailand put their act together, steadied their nerves and gained more confidence. They caught up with Chinese Taipei at 18-18 and then again at 22-22. As expected, the host team fared better in the final assault to win the hard-fought set 25-23 and the match.
Talented Onuma Sittirak scored a match-high of 17 points for Thailand, while Chen Wan-Ting topscored with 14 points for Chinese Taipei.
Following their victory, Thailand advance to the semi-finals of the prestigious Asian meet for a fourth time in a row. The semi-final berth has also guaranteed Thailand a place in the next year’s FIVB World Grand Prix.
As one of the last eight teams in this tournament, Thailand and the other seven quarter-finalists have already received the green light to test their mettle in the next year’s AVC Cup.
“I think my players did a good job in this match against Chinese Taipei,” said Thailand’s coach Kiattipong Radchatagriengkai after the match. “They controlled their emotion and maintained their concentration well despite trailing far behind Chinese Taipei in the third set.”
“After we lost to Kazakhstan in our first match in this tournament, I instructed my players on tactics and at the same time boosted their confidence. From that point, they have been improving significantly.
“Our next match against China is a daunting task. They are much stronger than us. Their blocking, attacking and serving abilities are fantastic. However, it does not mean there is no chance for us to beat China. We still stand a chance to match them and beat them, only if we can do better on break-point efforts, avoid making too many unforced mistakes and improve on our blocking ability,” said Radchatagriengkai.
Formidable Japan too strong for Iran
Confident of beating Iran in straight sets, Japan played without captain Saori Kimura in this match. Devastating left-hander Yukiko Ebata led the charge for Japan not letting her supporters down with her brilliant form. She attacked fiercely from all angles to help Japan take the first set 25-16.
Iran’s poor reception cost them dearly in the second set when Japan took command to lead with a wide margin of 20-7. Japan replaced Ebata with another southpaw Miyu Nagaoka to snatch a comfortable win 25-13.
To make short work of Iran, Japan attacked relentlessly in the third set. Despite putting up a brave fight, Iran, powered by Maedeh Borhaniesfahan, still proved no match against their much stronger rivals. Japan captured the set 25-11.
Yukiko Ebata scored a match-high of 10 points for Japan, while Maedeh Borhaniesfahan scored eight points for Iran.
“We have been playing for several weeks and I think my players are very tired. That’s why I have to keep changing my players in this match. However, I think my players are doing well. Against South Korea in our semi-finals, I admit that they are strong and it will be a tough match. We have to prepare well for the match,” said Japan’s head coach Manabe Masayashi after the match.
Korea struggle to beat Kazakhstan in action-packed match
Korea, who have never won the Asian crown before in history, mixed the offensive mobility of Kim Su-Ji and Kim Hee-Jin with devastating spikes by star spiker Kim Yeon-Koung to win the first-set 25-12 against Kazakhstan.
Kazakhstan stormed back in the second set, with the 195cm Tatyana Mudritskaya attacking spectacularly. However, Korea played every part of the game well with excellent combinations and consistency to take the closely-contested set 25-23.
In the third set, Kazakhstan replaced Mudritskaya with Alena Omelchenko, hoping to improve their fortune. Still, they proved the fast, highly-skilled Koreans too strong to go down fighting 20-25.
Kim Yeon-Koung led Korea with 24 points including 20 attack hits from 34 attempts, while Sana Jarlagassova topscored with seven points for Kazakhstan.
By advancing to the semi-finals, Korea have also secured the fourth and final 2014 World Grand Prix ticket. Four berths are on offer for Asia to be decided from this Asian Championship. China and Japan are automatic qualifiers, while Thailand and Korea took the third and the fourth tickets respectively.
“We did very well. Attacker Han Songyl is in good condition, while Kim Yeon-Koung also had strong spikes. We next play Japan. They are very strong. We must be well-prepared for the match and must have strong mentality. It’s a pity two of our experienced players could not join us here, setter Kim Sa-Nee and middle blocker Yang Hyo-Jin as both of them had injuries,” commented Korea’s team manager Joo Dongwook.
China cruise past Vietnam to maintain remarkable perfect record
China, whose height average is 186cm against their rivals’ 176cm, took the height advantage to play against Vietnam effectively in the opening set. Powerful Wang Yimei and Zhang Lei tore the Vietnamese defence apart with their spectacular spikes to help China take an initial 17-9 lead.
Vietnam regrouped and hit back with fierce attacks from Nguyen Thi Xuan and Do Thi Minh to narrow the gap 14-24. However, China allowed them one more point before Yin Na produced a beautiful midcourt drop for the team’s 25-15 win.
Yang Junjing, who injured her right ankle during the match against the Philippines, is fast recovering. She was fielded in the second set and became a major force to be reckoned with. She blocked well and attacked hard, while team-mate Zeng Chunlei was also on top form overcoming the small blockers with her sharp attacks. China claimed the set 25-20.
Vietnam started strongly in the third set to trail narrowly 10-13. China fielded the 195cm Zhu Ting in this set and from that point, China totally took command. They captured the set effortlessly 25-13 and the match.
Zeng Chunlei emerged as China’s top scorer with 11 points, while Nguyen Thi Xuan led Vietnam also with 11 points. Both Zeng and Thi Xuan had 10 points each from spiking and one point apiece from serving.
“Thailand played well and our match against them must be very tough. They also have home crowds supporting them all the way. We have to play our game,” China’s legendary coach Lang Pin said.
“We beat Thailand twice in the China International Tournament in Shenzhen and Ningbo this May, but we did not take it seriously in that tournament. It was just a game of our practice. Also, many Thai players had just returned from the Azerbaijan Super League at that time and they might be too tired to play in that tournament. That’s why they lost to my team. The Asian Championship here is the real tournament. All participating teams have to prove it out here,” she added.
Meanwhile, in the 9th-10th classification round at the MCC Hall inside The Mall Nakhon Ratchasima for the eight lower-ranked teams, debutantes Mongolia defeated Myanmar in straight sets 3-0 (25-15, 25-19, 25-18) while Hong Kong outclassed Sri Lanka 3-0 (25-18, 25-17, 25-18). Australia powered past the Philippines 3-0 (25-22, 25-15, 25-23) and Indonesia pulled off a surprise four-set 3-1 (32-30, 23-25, 25-17, 25-21) win over the Independent Team from India.
9th-16th classification round:
Friday, September 20, 2013
At Chatchai Hall
11am: 5th-8th playoff
Kazakhstan vs Iran
At MCC Hall
11am: 15th-16th playoff Myanmar vs Sri