After hectic three days of the pool round-robin preliminaries, hosts Nepal joined Uzbekistan and two unbeaten teams India and Kazakhstan in the semifinals of the Central Asian Volleyball Association (CAVA) Women’s Volleyball Challenge Cup at NSC Covered Hall in Kathmandu.
On Wednesday, the last day of the pool play, Kazakhstan produced terrific comeback 3-1 win against Uzbekistan, while India overcame strong challenge from Nepal to stun the determined host nation in dramatic four-setter.
Kazakhstan played a tough match against Uzbekistan in their last preliminary Pool B match to determine the Pool B winners. Uzbekistan made a solid start to narrowly edge past the Kazakh outfits 26-24 for the first-set win.
Promising Uatayeva gave Kazakhstan a strong comeback, unleashing a barrage of powerful attacks to steer the formidable team to winning three sets in a row 25-16, 25-11, 25-18 for the eventual 3-1 victory in this crucial encounter.
Uatayeva scored a match-high 24 points for Kazakhstan, while Onerbekkyzy and Akhmetova added 12 and 11 points respectively. Aziza topscored 14 points for Uzbekistan.
The other Pool B clash saw Sri Lanka taste first win in the one-week tournament following their impressive 25-18, 25-13, 26-24 triumph over Maldives.
Thilini chipped in with 14 points for Sri Lanka, while Ayesha and Kaweesha scored 10 apiece. Hawwa remained the backbone of Maldives to score 11 points on the team’s losing effort.
In Pool A, Kyrgyzstan also claimed their first victory in the tournament as they pulled off comfortable straight-set 25-16, 25-11, 25-20 win against Bangladesh.
Kumarbekova contributed 11 points for Kyrgyzstan and Chorobaeva added 9, while Kadyrova, Kudaikulova, Rasulbek Kyzy and Aitbekova scored 7 points apiece. Sabina led Bangladesh with 11 points.
In the other Pool A clash, India remained strong with the likes of Soorya, Nirmal and Anushree, three of team joined the Indian team which picked up silver medal at the last year’s AVC Women’s Challenge Cup in Nakhon Pathom, Thailand. Nepal also captured the AVC Central Zone Championship in 2019 and 2021 to their name.
India got off to victorious start to bag the first two sets 25-12, 26-24. Cheered on by home crowd at the venue, Nepal hit back gallantly to take the third set 25-21. However, the Indians still held firm in the fourth set as they went on aggressive attacks and effective blocks to win the set thrilling 25-21 and match.
Nirmal chipped in with 19 points for India, while Anushree and Soorya kept good company to add 16 and 14 points respectively. Niruta led Nepal with 15 points, while Saraswoti and Usha scored 13 points each in the team’s loss.
At the competition of the pool play on Wednesday, India topped Pool A with 9 points from three straight wins, followed by Nepal with 6 points from two wins against one loss. Kyrgyzstan collected 3 points from one win against two losses and winless Bangladesh finished fourth in Pool A with no point awarded.
Kazakhstan captured the top spot in Pool B with 9 points from three wins in a row, while Uzbekistan came in second place with 6 points from two wins against one loss. Sri Lanka finished third with 3 points from one win against two losses, with winless Maldives in fourth position with no point earned.
With only top two teams from each pool advancing, India and hosts Nepal in Pool A and Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan from Pool B made the cut for the semifinals. Four lower-ranked teams, Kyrgyzstan, Bangladesh in Pool A and Sri Lanka, Maldives in Pool B, were relegated to classification round for 5th-8th places.
India will next take on Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan will challenge hosts Nepal in the semifinals, due to be held on Friday, May 26.
The 5th-8th playoff matches will take place on Thursday, May 25 which sees Kyrgyzstan meet Maldives and Sri Lanka challenge Bangladesh.
MATCH RESULTS AND RANKINGS
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