Vinh Phuc, Vietnam, April 28, 2023 – In-form King Whale Taipei not only powered past Iran’s Paykan in dramatic four-setter 25-14, 25-10, 19-25, 25-18, but also earned a semifinal berth in the 2023 Asian Women’s Club Volleyball Championship at the Vinh Phuc Gymnasium on Friday.
Outside hitter Wu Fang-Yu and Lin Shu-Ho contributed 13 points apiece for King Whale Taipei, while Kan Ko-Hui added 12 points to the team’s tally. Opposite Mona Ashofteh scored a game-high 15 points on Paykan’s losing effort.
King Whale Taipei will next go up against hosts Vietnam’s Sport Center 1 in their last preliminary Pool A match on Saturday. However, following their exceptional 3-1 win against Paykan, King Whale Taipei had claimed two matches in a row, the similar 2-0 win/loss record as the Vietnamese. With only top two teams from each pool through to the semifinals, King Whale Taipei and Sport Center 1 are quite certain of making the cut for the top four.
Their match on Saturday will decide which team will be the Pool A winners. At the same time, the two winless sides in Pool A – Japan’s Hisamitsu Springs and Paykan – will be automatically relegated to the classification round for the 5th-9th places. The match between them in the Saturday’s pool play will also decide the 3rd-4th places in Pool A.
Against Paykan, champions of Iran Women’s Premier League at the 2022/23 season, King Whale Taipei fielded a formidable lineup with had already stunned the former two-time Asian Club champions Hisamitsu Springs from Japan. They included Wu Fang-Yu, Lin She-Ho and Flavio de Carvalho Beatriz from Brazil. The Iranian counterparts were spearheaded by Mahsa Kadkhoda, Mona Ashofteh and Fatemeh Amini.
The first set was dominated by King Whale Taipei as Wu Fang-Yu and Beatriz penetrated the Iranian defence with their exceptional attacks to lead 10-5 and after that, making the most of the Iranians’ hasty unforced mistakes, scored five back-to-back points to lead 16-7. Paykan put their acts together and hit back bravely, but their attempts were in vain. Wu Fang-Yu and Beatriz capped their stellar show by each hitting deadly cross-court spikes to give the Chinese Taipei side a comfortable 25-14 win in the first set.
The second set turned out to be a totally one-sided battle when King Whale Taipei performed brilliantly to take the lead with a 7-point advantage at 8-1 and never looked back from than onwards. Leading 18-8, King Whale Taipei held firm to take the easy set 25-10.
Opposite hitter Mona Ashofteh and captain Mahsa gave the Iranian team a strong comeback in the third set when they joined forces to attack devastatingly at the net. Leading with a 3-point advantage at 19-16, Paykan started to produce the goods. They were on fire with aggressive attacks, mixed by the impenetrable defence and excellent teamwork. Paykan clinched the third set 25-19, much to everyone’s astonishment.
The beginning of the fourth set was more competitive when Paykan momentarily gained the upper hand to lead 9-7, but King Whale Taipei bounced back in style with aggression and consistency. They leveled it at 9-9, again 17-17 and were on the right track to capture the set 25-18 and match.
King Whale Taipei head coach Teng Yen-Min admitted that her team had much pressure playing the Iranian team. “We did have a lot of pressure over our shoulders. The Iranian team are very strong, powerful and competitive. Tomorrow we have to play the home side, another strong team as well. So, for us, this match against Paykan is a key success to our semifinals. That’s why we have a lot of pressure playing this tough match today. Regarding our chances in the tomorrow’s match against Sport Center 1 from Vietnam, for us this is a different feeling. When we play in Taipei, we are a local team with a lot of fans to cheer us. But tomorrow, we will play the Vietnamese team with a lot of fans coming to support them. So, we have to fight not only the Vietnamese team, but also thousands of their home fans.”
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