Vinh Phuc, Vietnam, May 2, 2023 – Former two-time champions Hisamitsu Springs stunned Altay VC, the last year’s bronze medallists and 2021 winners, with epic comeback 3-2 win in the classification round for 5th-9th places to finish a well-earned 5th position in the 2023 Asian Women’s Club Volleyball Championship at the Vinh Phuc Gymnasium on Tuesday.
Megumi Fukazawa chipped in with 17 points including 13 attacks and team-leading 3 aces for Hisamitsu, while Ayaka Araki and Mika Yoshitake kept good company to add 16 and 14 points respectively. Outside hitter and captain Sana Anarkulova scored a match-high 25 points including 20 attacks and 3 aces on Altay’s losing effort.
The hard-fought 3-1 (16-25, 25-21, 15-25, 25-18, 19-17) win in the grueling 128-minute battle handed the Japanese side the 5th place, a far cry from their performances in 2002 and 2014 when they returned with gold medals in both occasions. Hisamitsu Springs also took part in the 2019 edition in China, where they had to be content with bronze medal following their 3-0 triumph over Kazakhstan’s Altay.
Hisamitsu Springs and Altay did not make the cut for the semifinals, which saw the two powerhouses suffer relegation to classification round for 5th-9th places in Pool E, which also included Iran’s Paykan, Hip Hing VC from Hong Kong, China and Khuvsgul Erchim from Mongolia.
Both Hisamitsu Springs and Altay have yet lost a match in the 5th-9th ranking round in Pool E to collect 9 points apiece with similar three straight wins. The Tuesday’s match between them decided the teams to be ranked 5th and 6th places in the championship.
Altay, whose height average is 181cm against the rivals’ 175cm, used their height advantage to attack powerfully at the net, foiling smaller blockers’ attempts and took an early lead with a 4-point clear at 15-11. Hard-attacking Sana Anarkulova, 189cm, and Tatyana Nikitina combined well for attacks and solid blocks to move the Kazakh side ahead to win the comfortable first set 25-16.
Conceding one set, Hisamitsu Springs bounced back mightily in the second set with Megumi and Mika Yoshitake puncturing the Kazakh defence with their spectacular attacks to lead 13-9. The Japanese side seized the opportunity when Altay became prone to unforced mistakes to attack and serve well and extend it to 23-19 before winning 25-21.
Altay regrouped and stormed back with more aggressive attacks and stuff blocks to win the one-sided third set 25-15, needing…
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