Japan captured its first-ever AVC Cup for Women after taking down erstwhile three-time defending champions China in four sets, 25-23, 25-21, 19-25, 25-16, in a highly charged Monday evening at the PhilSports Arena in Pasig City.
And to get this breakthrough title, the Hinotori Nippon had to call on a long-time stalwart.
Miwako Osanai pulled through in the close-out fourth set, showing the stuff she produced in winning one of the Best Outside Hitter plums in the previous edition in 2018. The prolific scorer finished with 15 markers on 14 attacks and a service ace — 10 of which was scored in the fourth.
Mizuki Tanaka was solid for the newly crowned champions throughout the match, ending with 19 points on 17 spikes and two service aces.
It was actually a dream start for Japan as they turned to its usual routine of good serves, and with the opponents’ passing disrupted counterattacks. Eventually, China’s defense, particularly, at the net caught up to Japan to keep the first two sets close.
The white shirts, though, found their points of attack to pocket both sets.
China had other plans and would not let the title slip that easily as they mounted a huge third-set fight back.
With Japan surprisingly at a loss on its defensive lines, China pummeled the floor for a huge 16-10 advantage. Japan tried to come back, but middle blocker Wang Wenhan ended the frame and set up that fourth-best tussle.
Opposite hitter Zhou Yetong carried the former champions throughout the contest, finishing with 14 points on 11 spikes and three blocks. Zhuang Yushan added 13 markers, 10 coming from attacks and three from blocks.
Setter and captain Mika Shibata felt overwhelmed after they won the Cup.
She said, “I am so grateful for this first championship, especially since we won this all together so that was really great.”
“Despite the lack of preparation, we did really great that we have all the top players in the Japanese V.League and we were able to highlight everyone’s excellence. So, that’s what’s good about our team,” the eventual MVP added.
Catch the best volleyball players in the continent on SMART GigaPlay. Download it here.