Canberra, Australia, September 8, 2013 – The Australian men's volleyball team placed first and booked the ticket to the 2014 FIVB World Championship at the Pool A of the Asian Men’s final qualification round for the World Championships after beating their last rivals Thailand here on Sunday.
At the end of the three-day tournament, Australia clinched a perfect record. Australia opened the tournament with a straight sets win over Kuwait, then came from a set down and deficits in two sets to beat Kazakhstan in four, and then wrapped up the weekend with a straight sets win over Thailand, 25-23, 25-13, 25-23, dropping just one set for the entire weekend on the way to booking their place at next year's World Championships in Poland.
Earlier today Kazakhstan wrapped up their tournament with a straight-sets win over Kuwait.
Despite leaving Australia without a win, and having won just one set for the weekend, Kuwaiti coach Ali Abdulameer found reason for optimism. "We had five of our players, five of our tallest players, not come to Australia. We will play Kazakhstan again later this month at the Asian Championships. Let's see how we go then."
Australian volleyball coach Jon Uriarte can finally admit it. He was nervous about his team's chances in the World Championship Qualification Series in Canberra.
"I don't want to put the bar too high just yet for this team," Uriarte said."I really want to take it step-by-step. But this is all good for the future. It's one of the most dedicated steps on this Olympic cycle. It's so important, but it was also risky."
For the third day in a row the coach waxed lyrical about his new libero, 17-year-old Luke Perry, who continued to grow in confidence with every match.
New setter Greg Sukochev proved he is more than capable at the top level, while captain Zingel showed lots of good signs.
Uriarte was also pleased with the performance of 18-year-old Sam Walker, who made his debut in a senior starting line-up against Thailand.
Despite comfortable wins over Kazakhstan, Kuwait and Thailand this weekend, Uriarte is playing down his team's Asian chances.
"Other teams are a little bit ahead of us this year," he said."Iran has a really good head coach, and they've played World League this year. And then you've got teams like China, Japan and Korea, who always play good volleyball."
In the Asian Men’s Final Qualification Tournament, 16 teams are split into four pools of four teams. Only the top ranked team in each pool will win a place at the 2014 FIVB Volleyball Men’s World Championship, which will take place in Poland from September 3 to 21, 2014.
Pool A: Australia (host), Kazakhstan, Thailand, Kuwait
Pool B: Iran (host), Pakistan, Indonesia, Bahrain
Pool C: China (host), India, Chinese Taipei, Saudi Arabia
Pool D: Japan (host), Korea, Qatar, New Zealand
Results and schedule:
Australia vs. Kuwait 3-0 (25-12, 25-16, 25-18)
Thailand vs. Kazakhstan 0-3 (17-25, 15-25, 22-25)
Thailand vs. Kuwait 3-1 (25-27, 25-14, 25-18, 25-14)
Australia vs. Kazakhstan 3-1(17-25, 25-23, 25-20, 25-17)
Kazakhstan vs. Kuwait 3-0
Australia vs. Thailand 3-0 (25-23, 25-13, 25-23)