China, Japan unblemishedin AVC women’s tilt pool play

CHINA bucked a second set loss to repulse Iran, 26-24, 19-25, 25-10,  25-13, to rule sweep Pool A of the Asian Volleyball Confederation Cup for Women Thursday at the PhilSports Arena.

Earlier in the day, Japan overwhelmed Australia, 25-4, 25-11, 25-15, to complete a three-match sweep of Pool B and send a strong message that a Japanese-Chinese final showdown looms in the event that ends on Monday.

Captain Wang Yifan led the five-time champion Chinese with 25 points, including 10 in the third set, while Wang Wenhan (13), Zhuang Yushan (12) and Hu Mingyuan (10) also produced double-digit numbers.

Perfect in four Pool A matches, China will play Pool B No. 4 Australia in the quarterfinals on Saturday.

“We didn’t think about our numbers in our pool. It’s a big achievement of winning this game (against the Iranians) but the tougher games are behind this game,” said Chinese coach Kuang Qi through Li Xuemeng, the team’s opposite spiker who’s also their interpreter.

“We have the quarterfinals and probably we will make it to the semifinal or the final which we should really focus on,” Kuang added.

Iran, which lost to hosts Philippines Wednesday, ended up its preliminary round stint with a 1-3 record but its Pool A ranking remains to be determined. Iran awaits the result of the Philippines-South Korea match Thursday night.

Yuki Nishikawa, who had three service aces and two blocks to finish with 18 points, was delighted to help the Japanese sweep their group.

“We had a little time to prepare for this competition with this team,” Nishikawa said through an interpreter. “But we did pretty great and I’m so happy for it.”

Despite her 16-point outing which included six service aces, Mizuki Tanaka downplayed her performance in the Pool B finale.

“Today wasn’t my best but we were able to win this game,” said Tanaka, also through an interpreter.

Japan, which has yet to drop a set in the competition, will face the No. 4 team in Pool A in the quarterfinals starting Saturday.

Miyu Nakagawa and Hawi Okumu, daughter of former University of the Philippines coach Godfrey Okumu, also played huge for the Japanese.

Khiani Garton-Dodd topscored for the Volleyroos with seven points while Tessa Browne chipped in three points.

Australia went winless in Pool B, which was reduced to four teams following Kazakhstan’s late withdrawal.

The Volleyroos will play the top-ranked squad in Pool A in the quarters also on Saturday.

Friday is a rest day.