Suphan Buri, Thailand ,July 5, 2003 - Except for hosts Thailand, Asian teams started with a flurry at the World Boys' Under-19 Volleyball Championship, with debutant Australia coming from behind to beat Venezuela in a hard-fought five-set curtain-raiser and China overpowering Slovakia in four sets.
The matches followed a grand opening ceremony in the presence of Thailand's 21st Prime Minister Banharn Silapa-Archa at the Silapa-Archa Gymnasium.
Venezuela made some early strong attacks with Ismel Ramos unleashing a barrage of spectacular spikes to put them in front 17-14, while Australia's counterattacks were foiled by Venezuela's good teamwork and they went on to take the first set 25-22. With their confidence brimming, Venezuela continued their charges and also won the second set 25-18.
Australia, led by their lofty 208cm captain Zane Christensen, then reversed their situation and with some scintillating cross-court smashes, took the third set 25-21 and were back in the game. the third set 25-21. They continued their domination of the fourth set mixing Christensen's devastating spikes with the powerful jump serves of Travis Moran to clinch the crucial fourth set 25-18 and force the tiebreaker.
The end was as dramatic as the beginning, with Venezuela trailing 13-14, its head coach Miguel Cambero received a referee's warning, then a yellow card for holding up the match, leaving the Australians to walk off 15-13 winners.
"It's beyond my expectation. I never thought before that we would win the match," Australian head coach Russell Borgeaud. "As the newcomer in the world meet, I dare not expect too high."
Cambero said after that he had not intended to delay the game but praised the Australian performance and said: "I think Australia is one of the strong teams. After they lost the first two sets, they changed the setter and the newcomer performed exceptionally well. They also used their height advantage to spike effectively at the net and we could match them in the remaining three sets. I'm not happy with my boys' form."
Three other Asian teams also cleared their first hurdle on Saturday. China came from behind to beat Slovakia 3-1 (24-26 26-24 25-23 25-20), while Asian champions India outclassed Poland 3-0 (26-24 25-20 25-14) and Iran crushed Morocco 3-0 (25-22 25-15 25-23). Hosts Thailand suffered their first loss in the hands of Puerto Rico, going down 3-0 (22-25 20-25 21-25).
The other matches saw the towering Russians tame Egypt in straight sets
3-0 (25-17 25-15 25-23), while defending five-time champions Brazil powered past Czech Republic 3-0 (25-14 25-14 25-23) and The Netherlands stunned Italy 3-1 (25-23 20-25 25-22 25-18).
Story by Preechachan Wiriyanupappong AVC South East Asian Zonal Press Officer