Asian Men’s Volleyball Championships enter play-off round
Dubai, United Arab Emirates, October 1, 2013 – The 17th Asian Senior Men’s Volleyball Championships came into the play-off round with the last 16 teams (four teams in four new pools) fighting for qualification to the quarterfinals.
At the Hamdan Sports Complex, Iran, Korea and China, who have all three qualified for the 2014 World Championship in Poland, continued their march to the final with straight-set wins against Iraq, Kazakhstan and Sri Lanka respectively. Host United Arab Emirates lost to Lebanon, runner-up of Pool H. At the Al Nasr Club, India’s thrilling five-set win over Australia was the highlight of the day, darkening Bahrain’s 3-0 victory over Qatar. Thailand and Japan both secured three points by beating Uzbekistan and Chinese Taipei respectively with a 3-0 each time.
Iran outplay Iraq 3-0
Iran, the champions and hot favorites, moved a step closer to the 17th Asian Senior Men’s Volleyball crown with an authoritative 3-0 (25-16, 25-17, 25-20) victory over former arch rivals Iraq.
Once ranked in the top five on the continent, Iraq played their first official match in an international event since 1989. They had the means required but were woefully short of match experience, with rendered them incapable of thwarting the Iranian team midway through the three-set affair that lasted under one hour and twenty-five minutes.
Iran’s forceful front men Shahram Mahmoudi KH and Hamzeh Zarini had the solid support of their main digger and libero, A.V. Frahad Zarif to initiate the inroads past the Iraqi blocks as well as the midcourt defence zones for Iran to muster another three pool points.
“For the record, this is the first time Iran has beaten us in an official game. We have been out of the picture since 1989. But we have a young side now with three experienced hands including a 19-year-old. We can regroup as long as our modest league functions with the federation’s support outside Baghdad,” said, Ahmad Shaaban, coach of Iraq.
“Credit to the Iraqis who have many youngsters with promise,” said Julio Velasco. “Iran revolves around two teams – A and B. This side here is almost the one for the World Championships next year but there are some players in the B list who are as good. The competition between the players is healthy and is a good sign for the future of Iranian volleyball. The pressure of defending the title is a learning experience for the players,” said Julio Velasco, head coach of Iran.
Korea defeat Kazakhstan 3-0
South Korea, who are using the Championship to fine tune their younger players who could keep the senior players back home company when it's time for the world Championship in Poland in 2014, have maturity and experience at their disposal.
When faced with a tight situation they were able to suddenly switch into a faster tempo like they showed at 28-27, which they converted into a half chance with a killer spike by Kim Jeonghwan taking the score to 29-27 (1-0).
The Kazakhs, powered by Anton Yudin’s lightning fast strokes and blocking ace Nodirkhan Kadirkhanov’s splendid preventive abilities, were able to match the fast moving Koreans over long periods. However, the overall firepower of the Koreans marshaled in style by the booming serves of Song Myunggeun and the run-in flank spanking, finally took its toll on the spirited Kazakhs.
Korean Bu Yongchan’s retrieval skills were amazing especially with his full length digs, which helped to tilt the second and third sets, 25-20 and 25-23, in Korea’s favour.
China beat Sri Lanka 3-0
China gained another three points at the Hamdan complex with a 3-0 (25-14, 25-17, 25-18) win against Sri Lanka, the Pool E runners-up.
Yuan Zhi, the best scorer in the previous match against Chinese Taipei, was on the bench all through the match, while his teammates did not let him down. China dominated in attacking and blocking. No. 5 player Dai Qingyao topped the team with 16 points, doubling the opponent’s best scorer, Ekanayake Tmhk.
UAE 0-3 Lebanon
In the concluding match for the day, Lebanon were not pushed hard by the UAE who despite putting their best foot forward went home with scoring a set.Mohammed Al Memari was in his element in patches during the third set when setter and skipper Majid bin Khayef spurred his spikers to pierce through the Lebanese armory especially in the open areas at the base.
There was this period in the third set when the home side backed by the non-stop chanting of UAE songs and drum beats, led the visitors 12-8, 15-13 before surrendering the advantage for the Lebanese to square matters at 15 all. The score then went to 19 all. Caio Maluf brought off an out of the blue block for Lebanon to draw level 23-23. It was 24-24 later before Lebanon, capitalising on two costly errors by the UAE at the net, walked away as winners with the score at 28-26.
India stun Australia 3-2
In a five-set thriller at the Al Nasr Club, Karama, India shrugged off the lethargic form shown during the early pool qualifier against Qatar, when they upset World Championship qualifiers Australia (25-23, 26-24, 23-25, 23-25, 15-12) in a pre-quarter Pool J clash.
Comparing both sides’ statistics, India scored less in spike and block but more from opponent’s errors (36-20), which decided the final result.
In other three matches taking place at Al Nasr Club on Tuesday, Thailand opened with a 3-0 (25-15, 25-19, 25-21)victory against Uzbekistan at midday, while Bahrain surprised Qatar 3-0 (25-23, 28-26, 25-22) in the evening and Japan defeated Chinese Taipei 3-0 (25-18, 25-20, 25-20) in the day’s final match.
Competition Schedule & Result
October 1, 2013 (Tuesday)
At Hamdan Sports Complex:
10:00am – Afghanistan v Bye 3-0
(25-0, 25-0, 25-0)
At Al Nasr Club:
10:00am – Myanmar v Bye 3-0 (25-0, 25-0, 25-0)
October 2nd, 2013 (Wednesday)
At Hamdan Sports Complex:
10:00am – Saudi Arabia v Oman
At Al Nasr Club:
10:00am – Kuwait v Bye
October 3rd, 2013 (Thursday)
Rest day & AVC General Assembly