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Australia, Kazakhstan show early form at Asian Qualification Tournament

Australia beat Kuwait with ease

Canberra, Australia, September 6, 2003 – Australia and Kazakhstan are set for a major showdown on Saturday after both recording comfortable straight-set wins on opening night of the Volleyball World Championship qualifiers in Canberra.

Host-team Australia had little trouble dealing with the much shorter Kuwaiti team, winning 3-0 (25-12, 25-16, 25-18) in just over an hour.

Earlier, Kazakhstan also made quick work of Thailand, 3-0 (25-17, 25-15, 25-22), but failed to impress coach Rafail Gilyazutdinov. Kazakhstan enjoyed a considerable height advantage over Thailand, and a dominant court presence led by the fierce service game of Vitaliy Erdshtein.

Despite the comprehensive win, Kazakhstan coach Rafail Gilyazutdinov was not impressed. 

“For two sets, yes, but not the third,” he said. “I'm not satisfied with the third. They didn't do what I wanted. They weren't tired, they just wanted to take it easy.”

Australian coach Jon Uriarte was reasonably happy with the Volleyroos’ form.

“We are focused on the job we have to do, it's not time to make any evaluation yet,” he said. “It's a new mix on court for us after the Olympics, we've got a new setter, we've got a very young libero.

“I'm very happy how Luke Perry – just 17 years old – played today,” he said. “He's showing his capabilities and his personality, to fulfill this role. We did a very good job outside with our attack, but we struggled a little bit in the middle. We'll try and adjust that before tomorrow.”

Adam White was one of the standouts for the Australians. 

"It was a little bit nerve-wracking, but at the same time it was good nerves, to be finally playing in front of our home crowd," White said. "Personally, I knew hardly anything about the Kuwait team. I knew a bit about the style they played, but individual players, I knew nothing at all. I think tonight's game was a good game for first game of the tournament and we can keep improving, keep moving forward from here."

Despite the loss, Kuwait's libero Abdulaziz Saleem said his team was not too disappointed.

"Everyone knows Australia is of the highest level," he said. "We can only do our best. They will go to the World Cup, but we will do what we did today to, play good. Australia must go to the World Cup, and we tried to play against them, but we can't. We're happy. If you lose against Australia, there is nothing to lose."

Tomorrow, first round losers Thailand and Kuwait meet at 4:30 p.m. local time, and Australia takes on Kazakhstan at 7:00 p.m. local time in a game that could determine who goes to Poland for the 2014 FIVB Volleyball Men’s World Championships.

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