Taiwan captured the title at the 2013 East Asia men’s volleyball championship final in Taipei last night, as the national squad defeated tough regional rival Japan by three sets to one.
The emotional win in front of fans in Taipei makes Taiwan the top men’s team in the region. With the best 4-0 win-loss record, the hosts deservedly won the tournament, which is officially the 2013 AVC (Asian Volleyball Confederation) Eastern Zonal Men’s volleyball Championship, and which is also known as the “Taichung Bank Cup” after the main sponsor.
In the title showdown last night, it was billed as a battle between the two main attacking aces, both wearing the No. 11 shirt, from the respective teams — Huang Chien-feng (黃建逢) for Taiwan and Sasaki Akihiro for Japan.
Taiwan made a strong start by taking the first two sets against Japan 25-17, and 25-18. Huang led the supporting cast of starters Wang Ming-chun (王明俊), Chen Chien-chen (陳建禎), Chuan Shao-chieh (莊邵捷) and Wang Tien-yu (江天佑).
However, the valiant Samurai Warriors made a feisty comeback as they won the third set by a score of 29-27 to put pressure on the hosts. Taiwan put on a strong showing to secure the title at home by clinching the fourth set 25-17.
For his superb performance throughout the competition, Taiwan’s attacking ace Huang was voted the tournament’s Most Valuable Player, while the national squad head coach Yu Ching-fang (余清芳) was named best coach.
“I told my team to enjoy each outing. Of course, I reminded them to do their assigned tasks in the games. It was great to win in front of our home fans, we did not feel any intense pressure. The Japanese team was probably more nervous than us,” Yu said in the post-game interview last night.
Japan had gained their berth in the final in a thrilling comeback victory against China on Thursday. The Chinese squad took the first two sets by the same scores of 25-21 and 25-21. Turning the deficit around, Japan fought back to take the next two sets at 25-23 and 25-18 to level the match at two sets each. In the rousing tie breaker, the Samurai Warriors smashed the Chinese defense to win it 15-8 and advanced to the final against the hosts.
Taiwan advanced into the final by a big triumph over the very strong South Korea squad in the semi-final on Wednesday. The Taiwanese volleyballers knocked off the tenacious South Koreans in straight sets: 25-23, 25-20, 26-24.
In the battle for bronze medal yesterday, China prevailed over South Korea by three sets to one (27-25, 25-14, 23-25, 25-21).
In yesterday’s other game, Hong Kong topped Mongolia by three sets to one (25-18, 22-25, 25-19, 25-18).