Bangkok, Thailand, October 13, 2023 – With only one day left before the single round-robin competition will come to a close, hosts Sri Lanka and Uzbekistan stretched their win-loss record to 3-1 on Friday to keep their high hopes of finishing Top Two to face off against each other in the Sunday’s final showdown of the Central Asian Volleyball Association (CAVA) Men’s Volleyball Challenge Cup at Sugathadasa Indoor Stadium in Colombo alive.
On Friday, Sri Lanka demolished Afghanistan 3-1 (25-19, 18-25, 25-22, 25-17), Uzbekistan saw off Bangladesh 3-1 (25-23, 19-25, 25-18, 25-13) and Saudi Arabia tasted their first win in the one-week-long tournament after dramatic 3-2 (25-22, 21-25, 25-23, 25-27, 16-14) win against Nepal.
Six teams featuring world No.67 and hosts Sri Lanka, world No.86 Uzbekistan, world No.68 Afghanistan, Nepal, world No.65 Saudi Arabia and world No.72 Bangladesh are contesting the round-robin event, which will see only top two teams fight it out in the final showdown to vie for top honor. On the same occasion, teams finishing 3rd and 4th places will also renew their rivalry in the third-place playoff for bronze medal.
Following their Friday’s win, the Sri Lankans stayed atop the six-team standing with unchallenged 10 points from 3 wins against one loss and are assured of securing their berth in the Sunday’s final. Uzbekistan, which had 9 points from 3 wins against one loss, also enhanced their chances of qualifying for the final.
Afghanistan and Nepal had 6 points apiece from 2 wins against 2 losses, with the former faring well to come up with better sets ratio to maintain their third place and the latter in fourth position. Saudi Arabia and Bangladesh had the similar record of one win against 3 losses to trail in 5th and 6th places respectively, with the former holding one-point advantage to stay in front.
Sri Lanka, which had already suffered their first loss to Uzbekistan, lived up to the expectations on Friday after powering past Afghanistan, which finished 14th place at the Urmia-hosted 22nd Asian Senior Men’s Championship in Iran in August and a disappointing 17th at the recent 19th Asian Games Hangzhou 2022 Men’s Competition in China, in thrilling four sets.
The Sri Lankans took the comfortable first set 25-19, went down 18-25 in the second set, but roared back to capture the remaining two sets 25-22, 25-17 for the match.
Bandar Jayalath became the unstoppable force in the Sri Lanka’s lineup as he performed brilliantly to score a match-high 33 points from 29 attacks, 3 blocks and one ace, while Kohistani Naser led Afghanistan with 19 points from 16 kills and 3 blocks. Asefi Ozair Mohammad was also supportive with 16 attack points.
The match stats also proved an absolute dominance of Sri Lanka in this clash against Afghanistan. The winning team dominated in kills (54 to 49), blocks (7 to 5) and aces (3 to 2), besides benefiting from more opponent errors (28 to 22).
Sri Lanka will next take on Bangladesh and win or loss in the Saturday’s match, the host side are 100% guaranteed of securing a spot in the Sunday’s final due to the uncatchable 10 points they have claimed so far, while Afghanistan will challenge Saudi Arabia.
Meanwhile, Uzbekistan, which ended their campaign in 17th position at the 22nd Asian Senior Men’s Championship in Iran, continued their impressive run in the tournament following their 3-1 (25-23, 19-25, 25-18, 25-13) blitz over Bangladesh on Friday.
Sobirov Islomjon chipped in with 14 points from 11 kills and 3 blocks for Uzbekistan, while Horosit Biswas scored 14 points including 13 attacks from 20 attempts on the Bangladesh’s losing effort.
In the see-saw clash, Saudi Arabia overcame a sturdy challenge from Nepal to narrowly edge past the unfancied opponents in epic tie-breaker 25-22, 21-25, 25-23, 25-27, 16-14 for their maiden win in this tournament.
Alkaibi Ali was the most productive player of Saudi Arabia as he contributed 24 points from 20 kills, 3 blocks and one ace. Awasthi Tek Raj led Nepal with 21 points from 18 kills and 3 blocks.
The single round-robin competition continued on Saturday, with the Top Two teams fighting it out on Sunday for the eventual title. Teams finishing third and fourth places will also face off against each other in the third-place playoff to vie for bronze medal.
MATCH RESULTS AND STANDING
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