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Japan, Korea men prevail in five-set thrillers at zonal championship

Chinese Taipei won over Hong Kong 3-0 to stay in second place behind Japan in Pool B of the Asian Eastern Zonal Men's Volleyball Championship
Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, May 22, 2017 – Japan and Korea endured thrilling five-set match-ups on the third day of the 2017 Asian Eastern Zonal Men’s Volleyball Championship at Buyant-Uhaa Sports Arena on Monday.

Defending champions Japan prevailed 3-2 (22-25, 26-24, 22-25, 25-22, 11-15) over DPR Korea, which had a group of supporters cheering for them in the 135-minute long match.

Japan topped Pool B with an unbeaten record, while DPR Korea ranked third with a 1-2 win-loss card.

The final match of the preliminary round marked another five-set encounter between hosts Mongolia and Korea. Both squads have already secured semifinal berths, but Korea ensured they got the top spot in Pool B with a 3-2 (19-25, 30-28, 25-21, 22-25, 15-9) win over the host team.

The home team came up with an impressive performance that stunned the Koreans in the first set. The home fans gave their team the boost as they cheered their compatriots. Korea struggled from the service line that yielded a 25-19 win for Mongolia.

Mongolia kept its momentum and led in the first and second technical timeouts, but the Koreans gained their composure and chased their rivals point-by-point until they levelled the score at 27-all. A service error from the Mongolians allowed Korea to snatch the second set 30-28.

Both sides fought hard but Korea seized the opportunity when Mongolia committed a turnover on their rotation. Korea held Mongolia in the next three plays to seal the third set victory at 25-21.

Mongolia persistently challenged Korea in the fourth frame and succeeded with a 25-22 win to force the visiting side to play a tie-breaker set. Mongolia could no longer power their great run and stopped scoring after the deadlock at 8-all. Korea outscored Mongolia 7-1 to clinch set and match at 15-9.

Meanwhile, Chinese Taipei topped Hong Kong 3-0 (25-15, 25-16, 25-17) to stay in second place in Pool B. 

The championship will resume on Wednesday with the semifinal match-ups of Korea and Chinese Taipei, and hosts Mongolia against the title-holders Japan.

The Asian Eastern Zonal Men’s Volleyball Championship is a biennial competition of the AVC Eastern Zonal Volleyball Association. The championship this year marks the 90th anniversary of the development of volleyball in Mongolia and the 60th anniversary of the Mongolian Volleyball Association.

The last edition was also held in Ulanbaataar with Japan claiming the title, followed by Chinese Taipei as runners-up and Korea as third placers.

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