BINAN CITY, Laguna –-- Japan clawed its way back from two sets down to crush Thailand, 26-28, 20-25, 25-16, 25-16, 15-7, to claim the 19th AVC Asian Senior Women's Volleyball Championship title Thursday night at the Alonte Sports Arena here.
The Japanese kept their composure despite a shaky start, banking on their vaunted defense to frustrate the Thais to annex their fourth tournament championship in a undefeated run.
It erased the bitter memory of a sixth place finish in the 2015 Tianjin, China edition and exacted revenge against the Thais, who beat them in the 2013 Finals in their home court in Nakhon Ratchasima.
Tournament Most Valuable Player Risa Shinnabe scored 19 points anchored on 17 kills to lead Japan while Mami Uchiseto finished with 18 markers on a 14-spike performance.
Japan skipper Nana Iwasaka, the 2nd Best Middle Blocker winner, chipped in with 13 points while Yurie Nabeya had 11.
The Thais started the game blazing as the Japanese played catchup in the first two sets.
But with libero Kotoe Inoue frustrating the Thais with her floor defense and the duo of Uchiseto and Shinnabe doing their job at the net and on reception, the Japanese unleashed their blinding counterattack to complete one of the most thrilling comebacks in the history of the tournament.
Pimpichaya Kokram, Ajcharaporn Kongyot and Chatchu-on Moksri all scored 17 markers each for the Thais.
Meanwhile, South Korea settled for a bronze medal after sweeping the 2015 champion China, 25-11, 25-18, 25-20.
Korean star Kim Yeonkoung won the 1st Best Outside Spiker, Moksri took the 2nd Best Outside Spiker, Thailand's Hattaya Bamrungsuk pocketed the 1st Best Middle Blocker while China's Jin Ye was named Best Opposite Spiker.
Nootsara Tomkom of Thailand claimed her fourth Best Setter award, Japan's libero Mako Kobata was the 1st Best Libero while the Philippines' Dawn Macandili took the honor as the 2nd Best Libero.
This story was originally published on the ABS-CBN Sports website.