Ust-Kamenogorsk, Kazakhstan, July 17, 2018 – Japan’s NEC Red Rockets fueled their fast plays with strong serves against Kazakhstan’s Altay, to win 3-0 (25-20, 25-17, 28-26) in Tuesday’s semi-final match of the 2018 Asian Women’s Club Volleyball Championship at the Boris Alexandrov Sports Palace.
Captain Mizuki Yanagita led all scorers on the field, with 18 points from 14 attacks and four service winners. She said “We knew that the Altay team has tall, strong players, and we had to realize that we should play well in service to get the points.”
NEC Red Rockets took a commanding 8-3 lead in the first technical time-out with the help of Nanami Hirose on attack and serve. They identified weak spots in their opponents’ reception, and converted well with their precise attacks. The Japan club ran a quick offense that worked wonders against a team which was slow to react. What the host team needed to do was to play tight at the net, and Altay’s Natalia Sharshakova responded with her deflections. Later, coach Iurii Panchenko brought in his second setter Natalya Akilova and Heloiza Pereira for a change in pace. The move paid off, but rather temporarily. NEC Red Rockets took cue from good momentum to finish 25-20 in the first set.
In the next set, the Japan club sustained their tempo and set up Misaki Yamauchi on attack. They carried on by imposing pressure from the service line, which threw their opponents off their defenses. NEC Red Rockets settled into a hefty 16-8 lead at the second TTO. Altay’s coach continued to search for solutions to the team’s predicament. However, their problems in reception persisted. The Japan club took two sets to nothing, with 25-17 in the second.
By the third set, Altay posted better defense where they could: by the net. Sana Anarkulova, Kristina Anikonova and Pereira converted on their blocks to boost the team’s scoring. The hosts took a 16-13 advantage at the second TTO, also with the help of better effort in reception. NEC Red Rockets still ran their offense with good precision and equalized at 20-20. Teams went into a close contest, exchanging side-outs to extend the set. The Japanese side handled the breaks of the game with much more composure, forcing their opponents to revert to their flawed reception. NEC Red Rockets took the third set at 28-26, to head into the final.
Altay coach Panchenko said “Congratulations to the Japan team. They played really well, while my team had a lot of errors, and that is just the truth behind it.”
Japan’s NEC Red Rockets will face Thailand’s Supreme for the championship match on Wednesday, July 18, at 18:00 local. Hosts Altay will look to finish with a bronze medal when they face China’s Jiangsu Zhongtian Steel at 15:00 local time.