Japan’s Sakurako Fujii spikes during the first of her team’s two wins on Saturday
Ulsan, Korea, July 21, 2018 – Three Japanese teams will be joined by representatives from Chinese Taipei in the semifinals of the Ulsan women-only one-star stop on the 2018 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour to be played on Sunday.
Second-seeded Yukako Suzuki and Kaho Sakaguchi, 10th-seeded Shinako Tanaka and Sakurako Fujii and 14th-seeded Miyuki Matsumura and Samaa Miyagawa continued the Japanese domination on Korean sand on Friday and found their way to the last four of the tournament. Top-seeded Nai-Han Kou and Pi Hsin Liu of Chinese Taipei lived up to their status and also advanced to the semis.
Tanaka and Sakurako were the only team to claim two victories on Saturday as they had to play in the first elimination round before participating in the quarterfinals. They hammered out a 2-0 (21-16, 21-14) win over Hong Kong’s Yuen Mei Wong and Tin Lai Ng before facing fifth-seeded Pronsuda Kritsana and Yodsaphat Pakham of Thailand in a battle for a semifinal spot. After winning a hard-fought first set, the Japanese had an easier second set to win 2-0 (25-23, 21-13).
Suzuki and Sakaguchi played against Julia Wouters and Pleun Ypma of the Netherlands in the only quarterfinal that had to be decided in three sets. The Japanese came back from a set down to master a 2-1 (19-21, 21-19, 15-9) win.
Nice save by Sakaguchi against the Dutch team
Miyuki and Miyagawa were quite emphatic in their 2-0 (21-17, 21-13) quarterfinal upset of seventh-seeded Sumintra Sow and Chanthira Khanok of Thailand.
Chinese Taipei’s Kou and Liu handled the last quarterfinal swiftly. It took them 26 minutes to knock out the last home team standing, fourth-seeded Koreans Hyunji Kim and Eun-Mi Si, with a 2-0 (21-8, 21-7) shutout.
Korea’s Hyunji Kim and Eun-Mi Si in defence action against top-seeded Kou and Liu
In the first semifinal, at 10:00 local time on Sunday, Suzuki and Sakaguchi will meet Miyuki and Miyagawa. The second semifinal, starting at 10:50, will feature the team of Tanaka and Sakurako versus pre-tournament favourites Kou and Liu. The bronze medal match and the big final at Ulsan are scheduled for 15:00 and 15:50 local time, respectively. All four matches on Sunday will be streamed live on the FIVB's YouTube channel.