Bangkok, Thailand, October 14, 2023 – Hosts Sri Lanka and Uzbekistan completed the single round-robin Central Asian Volleyball Association (CAVA) Men’s Volleyball Challenge Cup on a one-two finish and are set to face off in rivalry clash at Sugathadasa Indoor Stadium in Colombo, Sri Lanka on Sunday.
Sri Lanka powered past Bangladesh 3-1 (25-18, 25-21, 19-25, 25-23) on Saturday, Saudi Arabia bounced back from the first set loss to beat Afghanistan 3-1 (21-25, 25-15, 25-19, 25-22) and Uzbekistan demolished Nepal 3-0 (25-22, 25-20, 26-24).
After hectic five days of the round-robin preliminaries, Sri Lanka finished atop the 6-team standing with uncatchable 13 points from 4 wins against one loss, followed by Uzbekistan with one point behind from the similar performance of four wins against one loss.
Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia and Nepal had 6 points apiece from 2 wins against 3 losses. However, due to the better sets and points ratios, Afghanistan came in third place, with Saudi Arabia and Nepal in fourth and fifth places respectively. Bangladesh bagged 2 points from one win against 5 losses to finish on the bottom sixth place.
With only top two teams advancing to the Sunday’s final showdown and the next two teams fighting it out in the third-place playoff for the bronze medal, Sri Lanka will next face off against Uzbekistan in the showdown, while Afghanistan will fight it out with Saudi Arabia in the third-place playoff.
Contesting their last preliminary match against world No.72 Bangladesh on Saturday, hosts and world No.67 Sri Lanka comfortably took the first two sets 25-18, 25-21, but as Bangladesh put their acts together and started to produce the goods with huge attacks and effective blocks, Sri Lanka succumbed to the third set letdown 19-25.
The fourth set was closely-contested, with both sides pouring everything to win the set. However, the Sri Lankans fared better at home stretch to capture the close set 25-23 and match.
Bandara Jayalath led the Sri Lanka’s scoring efforts in this thrilling match to deliver 19 point from 18 kills and one ace, while Horosit Biswas topscored with 17 points including 16 kills from 37 attempts for Bangladesh.
The Sri Lankans dominated in kills (70 to 53), getting 5 blocking stuffs to Bangladesh’s 4, but both sides performed similarly well in aces (2-2). Bangladesh benefited from more opponent errors (28 to 17).
Sri Lanka advanced to the Sunday’s final clash against Uzbekistan, the team they went down 2-3 in their round-robin preliminary match on October 11. Bangladesh, which finished 15th at the Urmia-hosted 22nd Asian Senior Men’s Championship in Iran in August, crashed out of the competition as the bottom 6th in the CAVA Men’s Challenge Cup Colombo 2023.
Meanwhile, world No.86 Uzbekistan, which suffered their 2-3 loss in their first match against Afghanistan on October 9, put it past the fighting Nepal in hard-fought three-setter 25-22, 25-20, 26-24.
Uzbekistan dominated the blocking game with 10 stuffs from 51 attempts. Kuchkorov Azizbek alone overcame the aggressive attackers with successful 5 blocks.
In this match, Sobirov Islomjon was the most productive player of Uzbekistan to chip in with 12 points including 11 kills from 18 attempts, while Awasthi Tek Raj led Nepal with 10 points, all in attack.
Uzbekistan, which finished a disappointing 17th in the 22nd Asian Championship in Iran, will go up against Sri Lanka in the final, having their sights firmly on repeating a similar feat over the host side.
Earlier, Saudi Arabia, which narrowly beat Nepal 3-2 on Friday, made it two in a row as they pulled off comeback 3-1 (21-25, 25-15, 25-19, 25-22) win against Afghanistan, which finished 14th at the Asian Championship in Iran and 17th at the recent Asian Games in Hangzhou, China.
Alqurashi Meshari led the Saudi Arabia’s offense with 17 points from 14 kills, 2 blocks and one ace, while Haidari Gulam Rasool scored 14 points including 13 attacks from 28 attempts in the Afghanistan’s loss.
Despite the loss, Afghanistan are set to renew rivalry with Saudi Arabia on Sunday when both sides will battle it out in the third-place playoff for the bronze medal. Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia finished respective third and fourth places after completion of the round-robin preliminaries on Saturday.
MATCH RESULTS AND TEAM RANKING
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