Press release

Clubs from Iran, Japan, China, Kazakhstan reach Asian Club semis

Kazakhstan's Almaty (above) saw off Vietnam's PTSC to book a semifinal clash with Japan's Sakai Blazers

Palembang, Indonesia, July 28, 2011 – Defending champions Paykan silenced the nerve-wracking cheers of the Indonesian crowd with their explosive power and strength, brushing off Bank Sumsel Babel as the Iranian club stormed into the semifinals of the 2011 Asian Men’s Club Volleyball Championship in Palembang on Thursday alongside China’s Tang Dynasty, Japan’s Sakai Blazers and Kazakhstan’s Almaty.

The eventual winners of the tournament will travel to Doha, Qatar in October to take part in the 2011 FIVB Volleyball Men’s Club World Championship.

Before the start of the day’s first match, the Palembang Sport and Convention Center Gymnasium, where the eight-day competition is being held, was thoroughly checked ahead of the arrival of the President of the Republic of Indonesia Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono in the afternoon.

Security was very tight, with armed policemen and armoured tanks guarding the gymnasium. Everyone entering the competing venue would be properly checked and scanned.

The venue was packed to its seating capacity as the President arrived in the gymnasium to watch the whole match between Indonesia’s Bank Sumsel Babel and Paykan. An estimated 4,000 spectators inside the venue shouted and danced, some hitting drums and blowing horns.

The in-form Paykan started encouragingly, with Hamzeh Zarini puncturing the host side’s defence with his spectacular cross-court spikes and powerful jump serves which went unanswered. The visitors clinched the first two sets 25-14, 25-18.

Backed by the noisy home crowds, Bank Sumsel Babel held their nerve to hit back as they caught up with Paykan to clinch a nail-biting third set 27-25.
However, the formidable Iranians exploited their speed and power to blunt the hosts’ determined attacks. Bank Sumsel Babel again levelled at 23-23, but the tough visitors never looked back to win the remaining two points to wrap up the set 25-23 and the thrilling clash.

Shalkohi Bazargarde was the top scorer of the match with 20 points for Paykan, while captain Andri Andri collected 19 points for the hosts.

“This Indonesian team played very well,” Paykan coach Peyman Akbari said. “It’s an honour to see the President of the Republic of Indonesia watch us play in the match against the hosts. This also gave the home side a big boost. We next take on China’s Tang Dynasty in the semifinal encounter. The Chinese are also strong with excellent teamwork. However, I’m upbeat we can beat them and we expect a 3-1 win in that match.”

Tang Dynasty showed their class on Thursday as they took on the high-profiled Al Rayyan SC from Qatar. Surprisingly, the encounter resulted in a comfortable win task for the side as they sealed a straight sets (25-20, 25-23, 25-9) win.

Dai Qingyao was the backbone of Tang Dynasty as he bagged 23 points including 16 kills for the Chinese, with Konstantin Cupkovic scoring 12 points for the Qataris.

The other semifinal clash on Friday sees Kazakhstan’s Almaty challenge Sakai Blazers from Japan. The tall and towering Almaty struggled through their match against the spirited PTSC of Vietnam, seeing off the side in an unconvincing manner in straight sets (27-25, 25-18, 25-21).

The Japanese team produced a magnificent come-from-behind win to see off Thailand’s Chang (20-25, 25-21 25-22, 25-20). Nishio Daisaku collected a crucial 20 points for Sakai Blazers, while Chang’s fist-pumping Jirayu Raksakaew became the day’s top scorer of all matches as he bagged 29 points including 26 devastating spikes for the Thai team.

“It was as if we played our best in just the first set and let the win slip through fingers too easily,” said Chang coach Monchai Supajirakul. “I admit that my players could not control their game. They lost concentration. Our setter Saranchit Charoensuk, who still suffers from the palm injury, chased for the ball till he felt pain on his knees and we decided to replace him.”

“We next take on Vietnam, which is never easy for us,” he added. “Vietnam came back much stronger this year. They beat Japan and almost beat China in three sets. We cannot underestimate them anymore. However, if we can finish the fifth or sixth place in this championship, it remains our initial target as last year, we also finished sixth. If we return with the better fifth place, that means we improve our standard.”

As for the 9th-12th classification round among the lower-ranked teams, Turkmenistan’s Talyp Sport stunned Uzbektelecom from Uzbekistan in a closely-contested match 3-2 (25-21, 23-25, 25-16, 23-25, 16-14) to book a clash with Myanmar’s Asia World Club for ninth.

Meanwhile the Myanmar club showed no mercy to Afghanistan’s Etisalat crushing their inexperienced rivals in straight sets (25-17, 25-17, 25-16). Etisalat will challenge Uzbektelecom in the 11th-place play-off on Friday.

Thursday’s results
9th-12th classification round
Talyp Sport (Turkmenistan) b Uzbektelecom (Uzbekistan) 3-2 (25-21 23-25 25-16 23-25 16-14)
Asia World Club (Myanmar) b Etisalat (Afghanistan) 3-0 (25-17 25-17 25-16)
Sakai Blazers (Japan) b Chang (Thailand) 3-1 (20-25 25-21 25-22 25-20)
Paykan (Iran) b Bank Sumsel Babel (Indonesia) 3-1 (25-14 25-18 25-27 25-23)
Tang Dynasty (China) b Al Rayyan (Qatar) 3-0 (25-20 25-23 25-9)
Almaty (Kazakhstan) b PTSC (Vietnam) 3-0 (27-25 25-18 25-21)

Match schedule, Friday, July 29, 2011
8.00am: 11th-12th: Uzbektelecom (Uzbekistan) v Etisalat (Afghanistan)
10.00am: 9th-10th: (Talyp Sport) Turkmenistan v Asia World Club (Myanmar)
15.00pm:  5th-8th classification round: Chang (Thailand) v PTSC (Vietnam)
17.00pm: 5th-8th classification round: Bank Sumsel Babel (Indonesia) v Al Rayyan SC (Qatar)
19.00pm: semifinals: Sakai Blazers (Japan) v Almaty (Kazakhstan)
21.00pm: semifinals: Paykan (Iran) v Tang Dynasty (China)

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