Japanese ghosts will continue to haunt Thailand.
The NEC Red Rockets unseated the reigning champs Bangkok Glass in epic five-set duel 22-25, 25-19, 21-25, 25-20, 15-7 for the last AVC Asian Women’s Club Championship Finals ticket at the Alonte Sports Arena in Biñan, Laguna.
With the match tied at a set apiece, the Thailand Volleyball League champs overcame a four-point deficit in the third set to take a 22-20 lead. Both teams traded sharp attacks before the Thais sealed the set win with a smash from Wilavan Apinyapong.
From there, the Japanese took over. The Red Rockets worked hard on their ball control to stay within system and draw one-on-one situations. NEC held on to a five-point lead,18-13, in the fourth set to force a decider. The Japanese immediately took control of the fifth frame thanks to a deflated Thai offense, grabbing an 8-3 lead and sealing the win.
Pocket Rocket Mizuki Yanagita blistered for 23 points to lead five NEC players in double-digits. Team captain Akari Oumi pitched in 17 points while Sarina Koga adder 15 markers.
“We want to bring home the championship to Japan because it has been a long time since we last won,” said NEC head coach Akinori Yamada through a translator. “We’re confident but we still need to be careful because China (Ba’Yi Shenzeng) is a very good team.”
Vietnamese import Ngoc Hoa Nguyen Thi led Bangkok Glass with 22 points, Wilavan Apinyapong managed 13, while team captain Pleumjit Thinakow tacked in 12.
Most of the Bangkok Glass players are in the Thai National Team which made headlines in the recent Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Japan. The Thais were livid after two red cards were called against them in the fifth set of a crucial match against hosts Japan. Thailand ended up losing the match, dashing the last chance at a Olympic appearance for their veteran stalwarts Pleumjit, Wilavan, Onuma, and Nootsara.
NEC faces Ba’Yi Shenzeng for Gold at 5:00 pm while Bangkok Glass battles Kazakstan’s Altay VC for Bronze at 3:00 pm.
NEC (3) – Yanagita 23, Oumi 17, Koga 15, Ono 13, Sagawa 12, Yamaguchi 4, Yataka 2, Oyama 1, Sho 0, Iwasaka (L), Torigoe (L)
Bangkok Glass (2) – Ngoc 22, Wilavan 13, Pleumjit 12, Jutarat 7, Frazier 6, Suthadta 6, Pornpun 3, Thidarat 0, Maliwan 0, Tikaporn (L)