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Volleyball: Inspired Thailand down Japan to lift Asian trophy for second time

Hosts Thailand celebrate the Asian Women’s Championship title after beating top seeds China 3-2 in the semis and World No. 3 Japan 3-0 in the final. Photos: AVC.

Hosts Thailand celebrate the Asian Women’s Championship title after beating top seeds China 3-2 in the semis and World No. 3 Japan 3-0 in the final. Photos: AVC.

September 22, 2013: Thailand beat Japan 3-0 (25-22, 25-18, 25-17) to win the 17th Asian Women’s Championship in front of 6,000 screaming fans inside Chatchai Hall in Nakhon Ratchasima on Saturday. It was only Thailand’s second victory in the tournament following their win in 2009 in Hanoi, Vietnam.


Korea finished third after coming back from 2-0 down to beat China 3-2.

Korea finished third after coming back from 2-0 down to beat China 3-2.

In the third-place playoff, South Korea came from 2-0 down to beat top seeds China 3-2 (13-25, 17-25, 25-21, 25-23, 15-11). Star spiker Kim Yeon-koung top scored with 33 points including 27 spikes, while Hui Ruoqi led China with 21 points.


It was another surprise loss for Jenny Lang Ping’s side, who had not lost a set on their way to the semis and were strong favourites to retain their Asian crown, especially after finishing runners-up to Brazil in this year’s FIVB World Grand Prix.


Massive crowds formed a long queue on a Saturday morning to get tickets for the final featuring a Thailand side ranked 16th in the world against a Japan side ranked third.


Thailand on their way to a 3-0 win in the final.

Thailand on their way to a 3-0 win in the final.

However, Thailand fielded an experienced squad including six players from the winning 2009 team – powerful attacker Onuma Sittirak, Wilvan Apinyapong, Pleumjiit Thinkaow, setter Nootsara Tomkom, Malika Kanthong and libero Wanna Buakaow. The team were also strengthened by teenage spiker Thatdao Nuekjang.


Onuma led Thailand with 17 points including 16 spikes, Wilavan added 12 points from her fierce spikes, while Malika led the blocking with three points. Saori Kimura was Japan’s top scorer with 10 points, while Miyu Nagaoka led in the spikes with eight.


After the match, the Thai players celebrated wildly in front of their fans, although their celebrations with ecstatic fans also included time to walk to the front of the VIP stands and sit on the floor to perform ‘wai’, a Thai method of paying respect.


Thailand enjoyed enormous support at Chatchai Hall.

Thailand enjoyed enormous support at Chatchai Hall.

“I’m very glad my team won the Asian title for the second time. Every match was tough, but my players did their best and I think my players learned a lot from this tournament,” Thailand coach Kiattipong Radchatagriengkai said.


“We learned from our first loss to Kazakhstan on the opening day and tried to improve for better results in our next encounters. Our attempts were rewarded. It was a miracle, as we lost on the first day and left the venue on the final day with great pride and the eventual title.


“I think we’re on the right track. We’ve learned many things from this and I praised my players for their dedication in learning from the mistakes we made.”


Thailand had upset Japan in a pool match, stunning the 2012 Olympic bronze medallists 3-1 (25-15, 25-23, 23-25, 30-28). It was Thailand’s first win over the three-time Asian champions this year after defeats at a World Grand Prix pool match in Turkey and this month’s World Championship qualifying tournament in Japan.


However, Thailand caused the biggest upset of the tournament on Friday when they beat holders China 3-2 in the first semi-final, winning 19-25, 25-19, 25-22, 21-25, 16-14 against the 12-time Asian champions.


China fielded a strong side including the 1.95-metre teenage sensation Zhu Ting and 1.96-metre Xu Yunli, hard-hitting Hui Ruoqi and Zhang Lei, but Thailand prevailed to the delight of more than 6,000 screaming home fans. Onuma led Thailand with 31 points, Wilavan had 24 kills, while Zhu top scored for China with 31 points.


Japan beat South Korea 3-1 (25-22, 19-25, 25-19, 25-20) in the other semi-final to reach their second straight final, after losing to China in the 2011 showdown. Thailand finished fourth two years ago after losing the 15-13 to Korea in a five-set thriller.


Thailand will represent Asia in the FIVB World Grand Champions Cup in November, while Japan have qualified as hosts, while Thailand and Korea have secured tickets for next year’s FIVB World Grand Prix, with China and Japan qualifying automatically.


2013 Asian Women’s Championship, Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand


Final: Thailand bt Japan 3-0 (25-22, 25-18, 25-17)

Third-place playoff: Korea bt China 3-2 (13-25, 17-25, 25-21, 25-23, 15-11).

Fifth-place playoff: Kazakhstan bt Vietnam 3-2 (18-25, 18-25, 30-28, 25-21, 15-6)

Seventh-place playoff: Chinese Taipei bt Iran 3-0 (25-9, 25-16, 25-17)



Thailand bt China 3-2 (19-25, 25-19, 25-22, 21-25, 16-14);

Japan bt Korea 3-1 (25-22, 19-25, 25-19, 25-20)

5th-8th playoffs:

Kazakhstan bt Iran 3-1 (25-16, 25-22, 21-25, 25-20);

Vietnam bt Chinese Taipei 3-2 (19-25 22-2, 16-25, 18-25, 15-13)


9th-10th playoff: Australia bt Indonesia 3-0 (25-22, 25-17, 25-23)

11th-12th playoff: Independent Team from India bt the Philippines 3-0 (25-19, 25-22, 25-16)

13th-14th playoff: Hong Kong bt Mongolia 3-1 (25-20, 20-25, 25-23, 25-18)

15th-16th playoff: Sri Lanka bt Myanmar 3-1 (24-26, 26-24, 25-23, 25-16)


Best Spiker: Zhu Ting (China)

Best Blocker: Xu Yunli (China)

Best Server: Kim Yeon-koung (Korea)

Best Scorer: Kim Yeon-koung (Korea)

Best Setter: Nootsara Tomkom (Thailand)

Best Libero: Kim Hae-ran (Korea)

Most Valuable Player: Wilavan Apinyapong (Thailand)


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