Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand, September 5, 2023 – Kazakhstan survived a scare from Australia to pull off dramatic 3-2 (25-16, 21-25, 19-25, 25-15, 15-12) win in their Classification Round for 5th-8th places in the 22nd Asian Senior Women’s Volleyball Championship at Chartchai Hall on Tuesday.
Skipper and outside hitter Sana Anarkulova scored a match-high 26 points from 24 attacks and 2 blocks for Kazakhstan, while opposite hitter Tatyana Nikitina added 24 points including 19 attacks. Opposite hitter Stefanie Weiler led Australia with 20 points including 14 attacks from 38 attempts.
Kazakhstan took their six-point lead at 8-2 in the first set after Sana Anarkulova uncorked some powerful attacks and Sana joined forces with Kristina Anikonova for scintillating blocks. Australia fought hard to reduce the gap 6-19, but their intention to catch up with the opponents was short-lived as Kazakhstan played well consistently with confidence as they attacked relentlessly to take the one-sided battle 25-16.
Going down one set, the Australians turned the heat on the Kazakh side in the second set when they led with a three-point advantage at 12-9 before Kazakhstan roared back to level it at 20-20. Boosted by some cheering Australian fans inside the competition venue and the teammates yelling from the courtside, Australia went on blocking spree to move ahead 24-21 before Kara Inskip smashed a powerful blow from the right and it went unanswered. Australia won the second set 25-21.
Their confidence markedly boosted following the set win, Australia started to produce the goods in the second set which turned out to be lopsided affair from the beginning. Taking an early lead with a five-point clear at 11-6, Australia played well to block effectively and attack devastatingly, making the most of the situation when the rivals’ nerves began to fray, to extend the lead to 21-11. Kazakhstan gradually pulled their game together and went all out on the final assault. They claimed some more points before going down 19-25.
Kazakhstan made a strong start in the fourth set to lead 6-1 and with the Australians more prone to unforced mistakes, the Kazakhs cruised on to win the comfortable set 25-15, forcing the tie-breaker.
The decider was more competitive as both sides played neck and neck to win the set. Sana Anarkulova led the Kazakhstan’s 2-0 lead in this deciding set, but the determined Australians bounced back to catch them at 7-7 and 10-10. The score was tied again at 12-12 before Kazakhstan turned things around to win three points in a row to eventually win the set 15-12 and match.
Kazakhstan will next fight for the 5th place against Korea on Wednesday, with Australia competing in the 7th-8th place playoff against India.
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