Manila, Philippines, April 14, 2014 – Kazakhstan’s Kondensat-Zhaikmunay, Iran’s Matin Varamin, Qatar’s Al-Rayyan and China’s Baic Motor defeated their quarterfinal rivals to book their tickets to the semifinals of the PLDT Home Fibr 2014 Asian Men’s Club Volleyball Championship at the Mall of Asia Arena on Monday.
Kondensat-Zhaikmunay took control of the match against Iraq’s South Gas Club Sports in straight sets 3-0 (25-21, 25-16, 25-20). The Iraqi club felt the fatigue having to undergo a training camp and the long hours of travel before they reached their destination, as they struggled to execute their strong attacks against the Kazakh side.
Vitaliy Vorivodin spearheaded with 14 points on 12 kills, one block and a service ace for the Kazakhs, who clinched the first semifinal berth. Anton Kuznetsov contributed 13 hits, and Mikhail Ponomarenko added 11 for Kazakhstan, which finished fifth last year.
Kondensat-Zhaikmunay pounced on a struggling Iraqi crew every chance they got, dominating in attacks 44-30 and blocks 8-0.
"It's very important for us to win here. We did not relax and just concentrated on winning every point," said Kondensat-Zhaikmunay skipper Roman Khandrolin.
No one from South Gas Club Sports scored higher than four points except from Bulgarian import Aleksandaron Ananiev Metodi, who finished with 14.
"We played really, really badly," said South Gas Club Sports mentor Khalaf Abdul Sa Alaa. "I don't know what the problem is (today). I guess we were just tired."
In the second quarterfinal match, Matin Varamin of Iran suffered some setbacks prior to the match against an inspired Chinese Taipei side as they missed the services of their captain and setter Mir Saeid Marouf L due to a throat infection. During the match, another key player, Pourya Fayazi hurt his left knee.
The Iranian powerhouse somehow managed to gain positive results in the end and closed the match with a 3-1 (24-26, 25-21, 27-25, 25-22) victory to move to the semi-finals. The Iranians scored eight of the last nine points to rise from a 17-22 fourth-set deficit en route to a hard-earned victory.
"We didn't expect that we'll play a very, very tough team like them and it made us nervous, especially in the first set. But we tried to recover physically and mentally," said Matin Varamin's Italian coach Daniele Bagnoli.
Mostafa Sharifat bannered Iran with 14 points, 10 coming from attacks and four from blocks while skipper Seyed Mohammad Mousavi E. and Mojtaba Mirzajanpour added 13 points each.
Chinese Taipei, which has five national team members, relied on Huang Chien-Feng's 22 points, but it was not enough to lift the team to victory.
Last year's runner-up Qatar, represented by Al-Rayyan had an easier course in the top four as they dominated the Philippines’ PLDT Home TVolution in straight sets 3-0 (25-17, 25-14, 25-21) led by Olympic bronze medallist Cristian Savani, who steered Al-Rayyan with 19 points.
Savani, the 32-year-old skipper of the Italian squad that won bronze in the 2012 London Games, unleashed 19 points including 17 spikes to steer Al-Rayyan into the next round.
Mohamed Alhachdadi and Cala Gerardo Yosleyder added 10 hits each for Al-Rayyan, which dominated the PLDT Home TVolution team most of the time in the one-hour, 11-minute match.
"I'm pretty satisfied with how we played (today), but we still have a lot to show in the next stage," said Al-Rayyan's Croatian mentor Igor Arbutina.
Al-Rayyan outplayed PLDT Home TVolution on attacks 41-19, blocks 10-2 and service aces 6-2, while no Filipino scored beyond 10 points with Australian import Cedric LeGrand finishing only with nine points.
Baic Motor of China suffered with some blunders early in the match, which allowed Lebanon’s Zahraa Al Minaa to close the first set in their favour. The towering tandem of Liang Chunlong and Wang Chen, who combined for 32 points for Baic Motor, headed the team for the comeback. The Chinese squad cruised to victory 3-1 (23-25, 25-12, 25-22, 25-16), who arranged a showdown with defending champion Iran in Tuesday's semifinal round.
Captain Wout Wijismans also provided the needed support for Baic Motor with 12 points, 11 from the attack line, while other import Frederic Winters fired all of his 11 points on spikes.
Bruno Furtado topscored for Zahraa Al Minaa with 16 hits, but it was not enough to outplay Baic Motor's strong net and floor defense. Arthur Al Zayek had 14 points for Lebanon, while Jhonlenn Baretto finished with 11.
Baic Motor took advantage of Zahraa Al Minaa's 31 errors, while exploding on the attack zone with 48 kills.
In the semifinals, Kondensat-Zhaikmunay go head-to-head with last year’s runner-up Al-Rayyan, while Matin Varamin will be given another shot at defending Iran’s title as it forces a showdown with Baic Motor on Tuesday.
In the playoff for the 9th to 12th, Migrasiya of Turkmenistan carved out a four-set triumph over Duc Long Gia Lai of Vietnam (25-20, 24-26, 25-19, 25-22) in the consolation round for the 9th to 12th places on Monday.
Arslan Yazgulyyev fired 24 points, including all of Migrasiya's four service aces, and Dawut Nuryyev also tossed in 20 kills in a 23-point effort. Bahram Rozmetov chipped in 14 points, seven off blocks to help Migrasiya gain a shot at ninth place.
Migrasiya is to play Alnasr Sports Club of United Arab Emirates to dispute the ninth spot, who overpowered Sohar of Oman in straight sets (25-18, 25-18, 25-15).
Mohamed Chikhi collected 11 kills, two blocks and a couple of service aces for a 15-point performance to lead the UAE squad.
Amer Almarzooqi added 10 points for Alnasr Sports Club, which will dispute the ninth spot with Migrasiya of Turkmenistan on Tuesday.
Sohar, which wound up with only five players in the scoring column, got relegated to a duel for 11th versus Duc Long Gia Lai of Vietnam also on Tuesday.
In the playoff for 13th to 16th, Japan's Oita Msiyoshi Weisse Adler beat Hong Kong's Green Dragon in straight sets 3-0 (25-23, 25-19, 25-22) and Papua New Guinea's Amoa NCD rose from two sets down to clip Mongolia 3-2 (19-25, 22-25, 25-20, 25-20,15-10).
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