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Iran, Japan remain hot in Asian U23 Championship

The top two teams will qualify for the World Championship
Ardabil, Iran, May 5, 2017 – Iran and Japan stayed unbeaten on Friday at the SMM Asian Men’s U23 Volleyball Championship at the 6,000-seater Rezazadeh Indoor Stadium. 

Iran 3, China 0
Iran brushed off China in a lop-sided match (25-18, 25-15, 25-18) to end the visitors’ undefeated record. China found the host side too strong in the first two sets, but despite a good reaction in the third, helped by Iran errors, they were unable to find a way through.

Iran’s head coach Juan Cichello said: “China had 50 kill blocks in their last three matches but they performed only two kill blocks against us. This is why we won this match against the Chinese. We continue to learn in every match we play because our goal is to prepare these young players for senior level competitions in the future.”

Japan 3, Chinese Taipei 0
Powerhouse Japan had a a field day on Friday when they pulled off a comfortable straight-sets victory (25-23, 25-18, 25-16) over Chinese Taipei. Yuki Suzuki led Japan with 15 points. 

Pakistan 3, Malaysia 1
Pakistan tasted their first victory of the tournament, 3-1 (23-25, 25-13, 25-21, 25-21) over Malaysia.

Pakistan team manager Sardar Muhammad Nawaz Khan commented: “I have a good team here. We could have beaten China the previous day, but my players just lost to the big name of China. If we play Iran again, the match result can be 60-40 in favour of Iran as I am the only person in this stadium who can clap for my team and Iran have so many passionate fans. The reason why we lost the first set of this match against Malaysia was just because of our setter’s mistakes. Fortunately, we regained our form and teamwork to eventually beat the Malaysians.” 

Thailand 3, Kazakhstan 1
Thailand continued their dazzling form with a win over Kazakhstan. The Thais, led by the blocks of Anuchit Pakdeekaew, survived a strong challenge from Kazakhstan as they won in four thrilling sets (25-22, 25-17, 17-25, 25-22).

Uzbekistan 3, Australia 0
Australia finished in 11th place as they succumbed 3-0 (25-22, 25-19, 25-21) to Uzbekistan. Australia did their best to maintain their momentum, but Uzbekistan proved steadier and did not allow them any opportunity to fight back.

Iran, Japan top pools
At the end of the playoff matches, Iran topped Pool E with nine points from three straight wins, followed by China with six points from two wins and one loss. Pakistan were third with three points from one win against two losses, while winless Malaysia finished fourth.

Unbeaten Japan claimed the top spot in Pool F with eight points, while Thailand came in second place with six points from two wins against one loss. Chinese Taipei finished third with three points from one win and two losses and winless Kazakhstan came in fourth.

Saturday is a rest day at the championship where the top two teams will make the cut for the 2017 FIVB Men’s U23 World Championship in Egypt from August 18-26.

The action resumes on Sunday with the quarterfinals, where Iran takes on Kazakhstan, Thailand meets Pakistan, Malaysia go up against Japan and China face Chinese Taipei.

The four winning teams in the knock-out round will advance to the semi-finals, with the four losers relegated to the 5th-8th classification round.
Pakistan b Malaysia 3-1 (23-25, 25-13, 25-21, 25-21)
Thailand b Kazakhstan 3-1 (25-22, 25-17, 17-25, 25-22)
Iran b China 3-0 (25-18, 25-15, 25-18)
Japan b Chinese Taipei 3-0 (25-23, 25-18, 25-16)
Uzbekistan b Australia 3-0 (25-22, 25-19, 25-21)

May 7, 2017
Classification round
9th-10th place playoff: Sri Lanka v Uzbekistan

Malaysia v Japan
Thailand v Pakistan 
Iran v Kazakhstan 
China v Chinese Taipei

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