Roi Et, Thailand, March 3, 2017 – Hosts Thailand keep their high hopes of winning the “SMM” 2nd Asian U21 Beach Volleyball Championships alive when three home pairings including two men’s teams cruised their ways into the semi-finals of the top-flight competition at the makeshift Nongyama Municipal School venue in Roi Et on Friday.
On a day when powerhouses China lost both crowns achieved at the last year’s edition in Kamphaeng Phet, Thailand, in the three-day tournament, which served as the Asian qualification for the 2017 FIVB U21 Beach Volleyball Championship in Nanjing, China between July 11 and 16, Thailand 1’s Marudet Buntem/Jatoopon Saenyoot still lived up to their top billing. The Thai top seeds remained invincible in the men’s event to take on Iran 1 in the do-or-die semi-finals.
Marudet, who last year partnered Banlue Nakprakhong to claim silver medal, teamed up with Jatoopon to outclass Chamnan Phiset/Akkarapon Tumdee 21-17 21-7 in the all-Thais second round match. The Thailand 1’s duo still proved an impossible nut to crack in the third round as they pulled off a hard-fought 21-17 21-19 win over Kazakhstan 1’s Yegor Dmitriyev/Yerlan Yelubayev.
Marudet/Jatoopon will next go up against Iran 1’s Alireza Aghajani-Ghasab/Javad Firouzpourbabdpei in the Saturday’s semi-finals. Aghajani-Ghasab/Firouzpourbabdpei brushed off Oman 1’s Mohammed Al-Shibli/Al-Mandhar Al-Mezeini 21-17 21-13 and Australia 2’s Justin Schumann/Mitchell Wakefield 21-17 22-20 in their respective second- and third-round campaign.
Also advancing to the semi-finals were Australia 1’s Paull Burnett/Marcus Ferguson, who will test their mettle against Thailand 3’s Konsiphong Vaikuntha-anuchit/Keattisak Naksompol. The Thai duo on Friday eliminated Sri Lanka 1’s Ranga Probate Abeysinghe/Ashen RAshmika Jayasinghe Liyanage 21-16 21-9 in the second round and found their touch in the third round when they toppled second seeds China 1’s Liu Chuanyong/Tao ChengAn 21-17 22-20.
In the women’s category, third seeds Japan 1’s Reika Murakami/Hana Deguchi, silver medallists at the last year’s episode, flexed their muscles on Friday. The Japanese advanced to the semi-finals after capturing two straight wins on Friday including a fantastic 21-19 21-14 win over Thailand 4’s Kanyanee Kaewkepkham/Phatsurinyo Inchaiya.
However, a daunting task awaits the Japanese duo in the semi-finals when they will be pitted against Vanuatua’s Joe Ioti/Toko Sherysyn. The Vanuatu’s pairing performed superbly to beat Japan 2’s Reina Tokoku/Miyu Kikuchi 21-16 21-19 in the second round and second seeds China 1’s Cao Shuting/Wang Jiaxi 21-14 23-21 in the third round.
The other semi-final clash sees Indonesians Maria Dwiningtyas/Vitria Dwi Rahayu, who stunned top seeds Thailand 1’s Sirinuch Kawfong/Saranya Laesood in a hard-fought, three-set thriller 24-22 25-27 16-14 in the third round, take on Thailand 3’s Pawarun Chanthawichai/Thatsarida Singchuea.
The semi-finals, the third-place playoffs and the finals will take place on Saturday afternoon, followed by the awards presentation and the closing ceremony.