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Evergrande''s Italian Carolina Del Pilar attacks Bo Tong Gang''s blockers.
China’s Evergrande, Kazakhstan’s Zhetyssu in showdown of Asian Women’s Club Championship


04 May 2013
Dac Lac, Vietnam: Mighty Guangdong Evergrande and in-form Zhetyssu of Kazakhstan set up final showdown at the 14th Asian Women’s Club Volleyball Championship in Buon Ma Thuot here after brushing off their respective rivals in the semi-finals on Saturday. Evergrande and Zhetyssu are the only two unbeaten teams in the top-flight eight-team, one-week tournament, with the former making a perfect sweep by not losing a set en route to the Sunday’s final.

In the semi-finals on Saturday, Evergrande beat Bo Tong Gang of DPR Korea in straight sets 25-20, 25-16, 25-14, while Zhetyssu had a daunting task against spirited PFU Blue Cats, coming from behind to stun the Japanese side in hard-fought five sets 21-25, 25-19, 22-25, 25-16, 15-11. Against old foes Bo Tong Gang, the team they had already beaten in straight sets in the round-robin preliminaries, the legendary coach Lang Ping’s Evergrande struggled to hit form in the opening set.

Jong Jin Sim, who scored a match-high 43 points in the previous match against hosts Lienviet Postbank, remained the Koreans’ main weapon as she attacked explosively right from every corner. Evergrande counter-attacked with lightning-fast spikes from the 195 Xu Yunli and imported Italian Carolina Del Pilar.

Evergrande took the closely-contested first set 25-20, the second time in the tournament which the rivals could cope well with the Chinese onslaught to bag 20 points in a set. Bo Tong Gang already did this in their first- round clash against them. The other teams have yet reached 20 points in any set pitted against the Chinese powerhouses.

Their confidence boosted after winning the first set, Evergrande made use of better opportunities and the height advantage to take control of the remaining two sets and win easily 25-16 and 25-14. The straight-set victory carried debutantes Evergrande to the final clash. It’s the 10th time of China to have their team in the showdown of the annual competition.

Xu Yunli topscored Guangdong Evergrande with 17 points, while Jong Jin Sim emerged as the Bo Tong Gang’s top scorer with 14 points.  Evergrande’s head coach Lang Ping commented after the match, “We struggled in the first set. Bo Tong Gang came much better this time with good defence. We improved on some tactics to win the first set. We made use of the height advantage to beat them in the last two sets.  I’m satisfied with my team’s form.

 “We are now in the final. No matter which team we will play in the final, we have to beat them for the title. We beat Japan’s PFU Blue Cats before in the first round, while Kazakhstan’s Zhetyssu are strong team with tall players like us. However, to win the championship, we have to beat team,” she added.

The other encounter between PFU Blue Cats and Zhetyssu saw the former get off to a flying start. Though smaller in size, they came out in full throttle to attack the hefty Kazakhs with their amazing speed and exceptional tactics to win the first set 25-21. From then, both sides played well up to their standards. As the PFU Blue Cats excelled in defence, the rivals came up with solid blocks and sharp cross-court spikes. The Kazakhs took the second set 25-19 and the Japanese hit back gallantly to win the third set 25-22.

The errors-prone performance in the fourth set caused PFU Blue Cats dear when they went down miserably 16-25. The decider saw Zhetyssu in their rhythm to attack relentlessly. The Kazakhs captured the thrilling set 15-11, the grueling battle and a final berth. Tatyana Pyurova bagged 21 points including 15 kills for Zhetyssu, while Mao Kawakami scored a match-high 23 points for PFU Blue Cats.

In the 5th-8th classification round for lower-ranked teams, Taipei  came out in full force to put it past the fighting Giti Pasand of Iran in straight sets 25-13, 25-23, 25-17 and hosts Vietnam’s Lienviet Postbank beat Thailand’s Idea Khonkaen in marathon 102-minute five sets 25-9, 22-25, 17-25, 25-16, 18-16. On Sunday, Guangdong Evergrande of China will meetZhetyssu of Kazakhstan for the gold medal while Bo Tong Gang of DPR Koreaand PFU Blue Cats of Japan will vie for the bronze medal.

Source: Asian Volleyball Federation
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