Hanoi, Vietnam, July 19, 2019 – Dang Thi Kim Thanh scored a team-high 21 points as hosts Vietnam struggled to beat Kazakhstan in thrilling four-setter in the action-packed quarter-final encounter of the 3rd Asian Women’s U23 Volleyball Championship at the Gia Lam Gymnasium here on Friday.
With the dramatic 25-14 19-25 25-21 25-16 win, Vietnam advanced to the semi-finals of the eight-day championship, where they are due to go up against unbeaten DPR Korea in the hunt for a place in the final showdown for the first time in history.
Dang Thi Kim Thanh chipped in with 21 points from 16 attacks, 4 blocks and one ace for the host side, while Saltanat Sapargaliyeva topscored with 14 points for Kazakhstan.
Backed by more than 2,000 home supporters inside the competition venue, Vietnam got off to a confident start to capture the pole position with a five-point clear at 6-1 lead in the first set, thanks to an excellent offensive combinations between spectacular attacks from ace spiker Tran Thi Thanh Thuy and Duong Thi Hen and solid blocks by Tran Thi Thanh Thuy and Tran Thi Bich Thuy. Kazakhstan tried to recover from a slow start, but their efforts did not bear fruits as the host side dominated the whole game in the one-sided set 25-14.
Conceding one set, Kazakhstan made a positive start in the second set. Two strongly-built players, the 182cm Kristina Belova and the 185cm Zhanna Syroyeshkina, put the visitors back on track with their mighty attacks. The Kazakhs chased from trailing a narrow 2-3 to catch up with the hosts at 3-3 and went on their fine form to stretch the lead to 16-12. As Vietnam put their acts together to reduce the gap at 19-21, Zhanna was on fire as she exploded sharp blows to score crucial points for the visitors. Kazakhstan held their nerves and still played well, dashing out any Vietnam’s comeback opportunity to win the set 25-19.
The momentum was with coach Azamat Yessimov’s team in the third set and they continued to put the host side under enormous pressure after leading 4-1 initially and widened the margin to 15-12. Vietnam gradually pulled their game together and clawed their way back to catch the rivals at 17-17 and went on to win the hard-fought set 25-21, with the last point coming from Alexandra Mechshaninova’s erratic serve.
In the fourth set, Vietnam stamped their authority as they took an advantage when the rivals’ nerves began to fray and the host side led from the start to finish without much effort 25-16. Vietnam eventually beat Kazakhstan 3-1 to take on DPR Korea in the Saturday’s semi-finals.
“I’m happy with the win, but in terms of my players’ performance, I’m not satisfied with it. We next play DPR Korea in the semi-finals. I admit that it will be a very tough match for us out there. My players must try much harder. The Koreans are very strong defensively and offensively. We couldn’t underestimate their exceptional tactics. My players had a tough match against Kazakhstan tonight and they are very exhausted. So, I think they could not regain their form in time ahead of the match against DPR Korea. We have only 50-60% staying power to play in the semi-finals,” said Vietnam head coach Nguyen Tuan Kiet.
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