Hisamitsu Springs capture Asian Women’s Club Championship title and ticket to FIVB Club World Championship
Hisamitsu of Japan, the only team not to have lost a set heading into Friday’s final, survived a sturdy challenge from Tianjin to overcome the Chinese powerhouses 3-0 (25-19, 25-16, 25-19) in a clash of the Titans.
This the second time that the Japanese team have won the Asian Club crown. In 2001, they finished runners-up, but emerged as the Asian Club champions the following year. With their victory on Friday, Hisamitsu ended Japan’s 12-year gold-medal drought.
With this victory, Hisamitsu have captured the prestigious HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn trophy and a berth to the six-team FIVB Club World Club Championship in Zurich, Switzerland from May 7 to 11.
Against Tianjin, which last clinched the title in 2012 in Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand, Hisamitsu fielded a formidable line-up comprising five of Japan’s national team spikers Miyu Nagaoka, Risa Shinnabe, Nana Iwasaka, Yuki Ishii and Maiko Kano.
Iwasaka’s scintillating blockings and Nagaoka’s sharp spikes initially helped put Hisamitsu in front 20-15 in the first set. Tianjin, powered by hard-attacking Yin Na and Chen Liyi, bounced back mightily, but the Japanese played an impenetrable defence, making it difficult for their rivals to score. Hisamitsu clinched the thrilling set 25-19.
The second set saw the well-established Hisamitsu continue their remarkable performance with excellent teamwork to take the set 25-16.
Conceding a 2-0 deficit, Tianjin tried to pull themselves together. With Yin Na’s spikes and Wei Qiuyue and Zhang Xiaoting combining well for solid blocks, the Chinese captured the pole position 10-7. Nevertheless, Hisamitsu found their rhythm later on, fighting back gallantly with mighty attacks and well-placed jump serves. Hisamitsu captured the set 25-19 and the championship.
After the match, the Japanese team ran around and danced cheerfully, many of them in tears. “I’m very happy that my team won the title finally. It was a tough match as Tianjin was very strong. Winning the first two sets, Tianjin came back much stronger. Fortunately, we played well to beat them,” said a tearful Hisamitsu’s head coach Kumi Nakada.
“Hisamitsu won the Asian Club for the first time in 2002, but this is the first time that a new Hisamitsu has taken the title. That’s why I’m very, very happy. The Club World Championship will be a very tough tournament, but we will try our best. We will train much harder in preparation for the World Club meet,” she added.
Zhetyssu use their height and power to outclass Taipei in straight sets to finish third
Kazakhstan’s Zhetyssu, strengthened by the 195cm-tall Alena Omelchenko and powerful hitter Tatyana Pyurova, took the height advantage over the smaller-built Taipei to take the first set comfortably 25-15.
The second set was more thrilling as Taipei played with guts and determination, turning the match into a see-saw contest. At 24-24, Zhetyssu scored two successive points from Alena Omelchenko’s devastating spikes to claim the hard-fought set 26-24.
In the third set, Taipei relied on their defence, while Zhetyssu continued their mighty attacks. Taking a commanding 24-19 lead and with only one point to win the set and the match, Zhetyssu produced an unforced blocking mistake, allowing their rivals to narrow the gap 20-24. However, during an exciting rally, Olga Karpova produced a beautiful mid-court drop to eventually end Taipei’s challenge.
Hosts Nakhonratchasima finish in fifth place after a come-from-behind 3-2 victory over Lienvietpostbank
Nakhonratchasima fielded a strong line-up of players in the rematch against old foes Vietnam’s Thong Tin Lienvietpostbank, the team they had lost 2-3 in the group round-robin preliminaries. The team comprised four of Thailand’s current national team players Thaphaphaiphan Chaisri, Thatdao Nuekjang, Pornpun Guedpard and Ajcharaporn Kongyot.
The host side, though cheered on by a large crowd at the competition venue, started dismally, with their front-row attackers failing to penetrate the Vietnamese defence led by Bui Thi Nga and Nguyen Linh Chi. The visitors took the first set 25-21.
Nakhonratchasima came back stronger in the following sets, thanks to Thatdao’s fast spikes and Ajchaporn’s powerful cross-court attacks. However, Lienvietpostbank found their form, with Do Thi Minh hitting aggressively at the wing. The Thais gathered their courage to storm back heavily to win 25-18, 25-20 in the second and third sets.
Holding a 2-1 advantage, Nakhonratchasima still took command in the fourth set to lead 11-8 initially. The Vietnamese clawed their way back to catch up with their hosts 14-14 and went on their attack to win the set 25-19.
Nakhonratchasima struggled in the decider with the visitors hot on their heels before closing the margin 11-11. However, the Thais’ fighting spirit paid off when Nakhonratchasima claimed the set 15-11, the match and the fifth place.
Matin Varamin wedge out PLDT in dramatic four sets to finish seventh
Iran’s Matin Varamin, powered by hard-attacking Maedeh Borhanie, showed improved teamwork and form. The opening set was tough as both sides took turns attacking from the beginning. PLDT of the Philippines, led by former Cuba star spiker Regla Maritza Bell Mackenzie and the 197cm-tall Santiago Alyja Daphne, mounted a strong challenge against the well-organised rivals. However, Matin Varamin proved that their 3-2 victory over Vietnam’s Lienvietpostbank was no fluke. The Iranians took the hard-fought first set 25-22.
With their confidence boosted after the set win, Matin Varamin continued their winning streak to take the second set 25-16. PLDT staged a successful comeback in the third set, which they won 25-18. Matin Varamin continued to perform well in the fourth set taking the set 25-20, the match and the seventh position.
Somporn Chaibangyang, president of the Thailand Volleyball Association, presided over the awards presentation and the closing ceremony.
9th-10th place playoff: KSEB (India) d. VAS (Singapore) 3-0 (25-12 25-17 25-8)
7th-8th place playoff: Matin Varamin (Iran) d. PLDT (Philippines) 3-1 (25-22 25-16 18-25 25-20)
5th-6th place playoff: Nakhonratchasima (Thailand) d. Thong Tin Lienvietpostbank (Vietnam) 3-2 (21-25 25-18 25-20 19-25 15-11)
Third-place playoff: Zhetyssu (Kazakhstan) d. Taipei(Chinese Taipei) 3-0 (25-15 26-24 25-20)
Championship match: Hisamitsu Springs (Japan) d. Bohai Bank Tianjin (China) 3-0 (25-19 25-16 25-19)
1. Hisamitsu Springs (Japan)
2. Bohai Bank Tianjin (China)
3. Zhetyssu (Kazakhstan)
4. Taipei (Chinese Taipei)
5. Nakhonratchasima (Thailand)
6. Thon Tin Lienvietpostbank (Vietnam)
7. Matin Varamin (Iran)
8. PLDT (Philippines)
9. KSEB (India)
10. VAS (Singapore)
First Best Outside Spiker: Yuki Ishii (Japan’s Hisamitsu Springs)
Second Best Outside Spiker: Chen Liyi (China’s Bohai Bank Tianjin)
Best Opposite Spiker: Li Ying (China’s Bohai Bank Tianjin)
Best Libero: Marina Storozhenko (Kazakhstan’s Zhetyssu)
Best Setter: Chizuru Kotoh (Japan’s Hisamitsu Springs)
First Best Middle Blocker: Kanako Hirai (Japan’s Hisamitsu Springs)
Second Best Middle Blocker: Lyudmila Anarbayeva (Kazakhstan’s Zhetyssu)
Most Valuable Player: Miyu Nagaoka (Japan’s Hisamitsu Springs)