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Korea and Thailand qualify for 2011 FIVB World Grand Prix after entering semis at Asian Women's Cup

2010-09-25 14:42:00 FIVB

Taicang, China, September 24, 2010 – Asian Champions Thailand and Korea secured qualification for the 2011 FIVB World Grand Prix in Taicang, China on Tuesday as they qualified for the semifinals of the Second Asian Women’s Cup Volleyball Championship alongside reigning champions China and Japan.

After the FIVB Grand Prix Council enlarged Grand Prix participants from 12 to 16 teams, Asia will have four berths and the fifth placed side in the Championship will have a playoff match with an African team with the winner qualifying for the premier annual female tournament.

With China and Japan already qualified for the 2011 FIVB event, Thailand and Korea are now guaranteed qualification for the Grand Prix whether they finish first or fourth.

In the quarterfinals matches, Japan downed Kazakhstan in straight sets (25-22, 25-19, 25-19), Korea beat Chinese Taipei 3-0 (25-15, 25-14, 25-11), Thailand trounced Iran in three sets (25-15, 25-11, 25-15) and hosts China, the only unbeaten team yet to lose one set, outclassed Vietnam 3-0 (25-12, 25-14, 25-19).

In the first match of the day, the smaller Japan, with an average height of 176cm, thrashed taller Kazakhstan with an average height of 184cm in straight sets.

In the first set, both sides began well in attack tying at 9-9. From then on, both sides tried hard to overcome their opponents and the gap never exceeded two points until 19-17 where Japan gained the lead with spiking from Akari Oumi and also due to errors by Kazakhstan in attacking.

Japan took command in the second set, and they led from the beginning increasing their lead to 20-13. Japan continued to pile on the pressure as Kazakhstan let errors leak into their game, and they eventually took the set 25-21 with an attack from hard-hitting Akari Oumi.

Conceding two sets, Kazakhstan tightened their defence and overwhelmed the Japanese players with their power at the net. Despite a sturdy challenge from the tough opponents, Japan steadied their nerves to end the Kazakhstan in the set 25-19.

“We are very disappointed as we had wish to beat Japan,” Chsherbakova Nelli, coach of Kazakhstan, said. “Our blocking was not successful and attack is not as good as usual while Japan’s defence is very good.”

“Our defense was excellent which contributed a lot to our victory,” Abo Kiyoshi, Japanese coach, said.

In the second match, Indomitable Korea stormed past Chinese Taipei in three sets. The lofty Korea, whose height average is 184cm, used their attack exceptionally and block effectively to lead all the way during the match thanks to powerful hitter Kim Yeon Koung, who scored a match-high 31 points. Chinese Taipei tried hard to regain their form, but their game became more error-prone with unforced spiking and serving errors. Korea bagged the one-sided opener 25-14.

The second set was still dominated by Korea, who finished runners-up to China in the first Asian Cup in Nakhon Ratchasima. Their deadly smashes and effect blocking kept Chinese Taipei flat-footed several times. As expected, Korea clinched the second set 25-16, again without difficulty.

Conceding the first two sets, Chinese Taipei lost their confidence. All their efforts were foiled by the taller Korean players in the third as they eventually clinched the set.

Thailand crushed Iran in a lop-sided battle to join Japan and Korea in the semi-finals in the third quarterfinal encounter.

Fired-up Thailand fielded a strong line-up in the first two sets including Apinyapong Wilavan, Kanthong Malika and Sittirak Onuma, which proved to strong for the fast-improving Iran.

Powerful Kanthong Malika and Sittirak Onuma were the team's backbone for crucial points and they tallied 12 and 11 points respectively As Iran's game was riddled with unforced spiking and blocking mistakes, Thailand continued their mighty attacks to win the set with ease 25-11.

In the third set, Thailand fielded all substitutions, and their fast spikes caught Iran off-guard occasionally. Thailand widened the gap 20-13 and marched on to win the set without difficulty.

In the day’s final match, defending champions China delighted the home fans by beating their rivals in straight sets to book the last ticket to the semifinals.

China fielded their second line-up with the star players Wang Yimei and setter and captain Wei Qiuyue sitting on bench, but they still took overall control at the net and set up an 8-1 lead in the first set. China’s speedy attack from middle blockers Xu Yunli and Ma Yunwen proved too much for Vietnam and they soon surged to 20-9 and claim the set with a strong attack by Fan Linlin.

With Fan and opposite Zhang Lei consistence in attack, China led through the second set while Vietnam struggled at the net. China’s attacking tore the Vietnamese defense into shreds and they clinched the set 25-14 after Xu delivered a spike from middle of the net.

China still dominated the third set. Falling behind 11-19, Nguyen Thi Thu Hoa sparked a 6-2 run to help Vietnam pull within reach at 17-21, forcing China to call their first timeout in the match. China resumed their shape and took the set following a chain of sharp attacks as Chen Liyi smashed home a powerful spike for the right side, sealing the set and also the match.

“All the players did very good today, especially Zhang Lei and Fan Linlin,” Yu Juemin, Chinese coach, said “But they are young and also committed some errors. They have a long way to go especially we are going to participate the World Championship. Frankly speaking they are not good enough to play against world powerhouses like Brazil or USA.”

China will face Japan in the semis. Japanese head coach Abo Kiyoshi said “We will prepare well for the match against China. China is a strong team in Asia. But they are not familiar with our young players and we will challenge them.”

In Friday’s semi-finals, Thailand go up against Korea and China take on Japan, while Kazakhstan challenge Vietnam and Iran face Chinese Taipei in the 5th-8th classification round.

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