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Golden Spikers: China caps perfect run at AVC U23 tournament

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Right from the first point they scored in their first game of the tournament, the Chinese National Team seemed destined to dominate the AVC U23 competition. Using their overwhelming height and power, the Chinese plowed through every team they played, checking off their last victim, Thailand, in four sets 27-25, 21-25, 25-21, 25-11 in the Gold Medal Match at the PhilSports Arena in Pasig City.

The Chinese used their depth to coast through weaker teams then fielded their star players to finish off Asia’s top Under-23 talents. The future of Chinese volleyball, Liu Yanhan was named tournament MVP and one of the Best Outside Hitters. In the Gold Medal match, Yanhan dished out her second-best scoring output of the tournament with 28 points off of 23 attacks, four blocks, and an ace.

China’s setter, Chen Xintong was deemed the best at her position while her teammate, Zheng Yixin was crowned one of the best middle blockers. Chen contributed 24 excellent sets, three blocks, and an ace in their final match while Zheng finished with eight markers.

The local crowd was treated to a splendid back-and-forth Gold Medal match, with each team imposing their strengths upon the game. Thailand breakneck offensive pace out-produced China’s with 55 points off attacks to China’s 46. But the vaunted Great Wall of Chinese Blockers, bothered the Thailand attackers severely, producing 14 blocks and forcing Thailand to a putrid 31 errors.

In the end, China led the tournament in attacking, blocking, and setting, a testament to their uncanny blend of elite height, athleticism, and volleyball skill.

The Thais, meanwhile, did their best against the Chinese team. Outside hitter, Kongyot Ajcharaporn led her team in scoring in the Gold Medal match with 18 points while Moksri Chatchu-on and Kokram Pimpichaya paced Thailand with 17 and 10 points respectively. Pimpichaya was named the tournament’s Best Opposite Hitter while her teammate, Bamrungsuk Hattaya was hailed as one of the Best Middle Hitters of the tournament.

Thailand had a marvelous run to the Final with their only losses coming at the hands of the Chinese. It took an epic five-set match against Japan for Thailand to reach the Gold Medal match. This latest China matchup marks the latest in a decade-long volleyball rivalry between the countries, as they’ve constantly faced and eliminated each other in Global and Asian tournaments.

Bronze medalists, Korea, had two of their players named to the all-tournament team as Kim Yeongyeon was named Best Libero and Lee Soyoung recieved one of the tourney’s Best Open Spiker awards.

The Scores

China (3) – Liu 28, Duan 13, Zheng 8, Wang 7, Zhang 4, Chen 4, Xu 3, Cheng 0, Huang (L), Wang (L)

Thailand (1) – Ajcaharaporn 18, Chatchu-on 17, Pimpichaya 10, Jarasporn 9, Hattaya 5, Pornpun 5, Sineenat 1, Pankeaw 0, Wipawee 0, Anisa (L)

CLICK IMAGE FOR THE AVC WOMEN’S U23 AWARDING CEREMONY
AVCU23 Awarding Ceremonies-12

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Miguel Luis Flores fell face first into sports writing in high sch9l and has never gotten up. He reluctantly stumbled into the volleyball beat when he started with Tiebreaker Times three years ago. Now, he has waded through everything volleyball - from its icky politics to the post-modern art that is Jia Morado's setting.

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