Tehran, Iran, September 20, 2019 – Australia’s efforts at the Asian Senior Men’s Volleyball Championship have reached great heights when the Volleyroos captured the limelight with a stunning tie-breaker (20-25, 25-18, 16-25, 25-22, 15-12) win against defending and successive two-time champions Japan in the semi-finals at the 12,000-seater Azadi Sports Complex on Friday.
Against the unbeaten Australians, Japan fielded a strong line-up which beat China in the quarter-finals the previous day led by Yuji Nishida. Australia made a poor start in the first set to trail Japan with four points behind at 10-14 and could not maintain their form to let Japan take the first set 25-20.
Going down one set, Australia regained their composure and fought back mightily to take total control of the second set to win 25-18.
With Yuji Nishida methodically tearing the Australian defence apart, Japan made their mark in the third set. Their resilience was showcased through spectacular blocking and explosive attacks as Australia went down 16-25 in the comfortable set.
The Volleyroos were not willing to surrender as they put their acts together, fought back gallantly and extended the match to the decider by beating the nine-time winners 25-22 in the fourth set.
Both teams shone through their exceptional form in the decider. Though putting up an aggressive fightback, Australia found the rivals so tough but they still managed to storm on to win the tie-breaker 15-12, match and a final berth.
Australia finished 8th place at the previous edition, but the 20th edition here has given them a good opportunity to prove their talents and win a medal for sure no matter what color it will be.
Australia head coach Mark Lebedew said: “I am happy and proud that we won this game to play the final. That is the first thing I am thinking about. We didn’t make any plans for the end of the tournament. But if we have a dream for the moment, the dream is to play Iran in Iran with the full stadium and it would be something we will remember for the rest of our lives. Since I have been the coach of the Australia volleyball national team, we have played Japan six times and four of them went into the fifth set. So, we were ready for a really hard match. We know each other well from playing a lot, but today was different from the first-round match as the players from both teams were tired and it was really important. That was all we could do today”.
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