Intense competition between China and Philippines on Sunday

Isa Town, Bahrain, June 2, 2024 – Strong teams demolished lower-ranked sides in comfortable straight sets to get their highly-anticipated campaigns off to brilliant starts in the 2024 AVC Challenge Cup for Men, which is being held at Isa Sports City Hall C from June 2 to 9.

Twelve teams are testing their mettle in this topflight competition to vie for top honor and the lone berth for the 2024 FIVB Men’s Challenger Cup in Linyi, China  from July 4 to 7, which will serve as the last qualification tournament for eight qualified teams including hosts China to battle it out for a spot in the 2025 Volleyball Nations League (VNL), which will expand to 18 teams.

On Sunday, the very first day of the eight-day tournament, strong teams Pakistan, Australia, Korea and China celebrated their first victories in Bahrain. Pakistan beat Kazakhstan 3-0 (25-19, 25-19, 25-21), with Australia brushing off Chinese Taipei 3-0 (25-21, 25-17, 25-17), Korea powering past Indonesia 3-0 (25-11, 25-16, 25-9) and China overcoming Philippines 3-0 (25-19, 25-22, 25-22).

In the curtain-raisers between world No.49 Pakistan, which captured the recent CAVA Nations League title after 3-1 demolition of Turkmenistan in the final showdown on home soil in Islamabad on May 18, made a solid start in the tournament to pull off an exceptional win against world No.55 Kazakhstan in Pool B.

Pakistan, fielding a strong lineup led by Ali Usman Faryad, who landed Best Outside Hitter and MVP at the CAVA Nations League, Musawer Khan and Naveed Muhammad Kashif, the respective Best Middle Blocker and the Best Setter in the aforementioned competition, while Kazakhstan had many players from the 2023 edition back to strengthen the team including veteran Vorivodin Vitaliy.

With an outstanding performance, Pakistan triumphed in a fantastic 3-0 battle against Kazakhstan, which did not make their mark to finish a below-par 7th at the previous edition in Chinese Taipei last year and a disappointing 13th position at the Asian Senior Men’s Championship in Uremia, Iran on the same year.

Murad Khan scored a match-high 21 points from 19 kills and two blocks for Pakistan, while Vorivodin Vitaliy handed Kazakhstan 14 points including 12 kills on the team’s loss.

The second match saw world No.34 Australia prove too strong for Chinese Taipei to overpower the world No.44 in straight sets  in Pool D.


Australia started solidly in the tournament, aiming for a better comeback this time after a disappointing fifth place last year. Their more determination and consistent play in their opener against Chinese Taipei bore fruits with 25-21, 25-17, 25-17 win.


Sam Flowerday played a key role in the Australia’s convincing win in this match, delivering 16 points from 12 kills, three blocks and one ace, while Jheng Who-Jhih led Chinese Taipei with 10 points from 31 attempts.

In Pool C,  Korea, bronze medallists at the previous edition of the AVC Challenge Cup, cruised their way past the Indonesians in a totally one-sided battle 25-11, 25-16, 25-9.

With outside hitter Kim Jihan and opposite Shin Hojin showcasing their prowess with exceptional attacks and Shin Hojin and Choi Junhyeok producing solid blocks, the Koreans were incredibly dominant in all three sets as they gave no chance to the young rivals to win comfortable straight sets.

Kim Jihan tallied 16 points including 14 kills for Korea, while Shin Hojin and Choi Junhyeok kept good company to add 13 and 10 points respectively.  Korea limited the Indonesian offense to the point that no rivals’ player got to reach double digits in scoring against them. Nibras Fauzan was the most productive player for Indonesia with 8 points from 7 kills and one ace.

The Korea’s dominance was also visible in the match stats as the winners dominated in all elements consisting of kills (38 to 19), blocks (14 to 2) and aces (8 to 1), besides benefiting from more opponent errors (15 to 14).

In the last encounter of the day, world No.32 China, a well-earned fourth place at the Urmia-hosted Asian Senior Men’s Championship in Iran last year, struggled to beat world No.57 Philippines in hard-fought three-setter 25-19, 25-22, 25-22 in Pool A.

China, despite their high ranking in Asia and the world, were relegated from last year’s VNL by virtue of being the bottom-ranked nation in the 16-team field and are attempting to find their way back to the world-class competition.

China are making their debut in the AVC Challenge Cup in Bahrain, but had already boasted an impressive track record in some continental tournaments including the 2022 AVC Cup in Nakhon Pathom, Thailand, where they reigned supreme, and the last year’s Hangzhou Asian Games, which they picked up silver on home soil.

The Philippines also sent a strong team mixed between seasoned veterans and promising young talents, with Marck Jesus Espejo skippering the squad and outside hitter Joshua Umandal and middle blocker Kim Malabunga orchestrating the offense.

The Philippines fought well in a seesaw first set, but with a string of unforced errors mostly coming from the service area on the home stretch, resulting in the Asian powerhouses China’s 24-19 lead and opposite Leo Ordiales botched his attack attempt to drop the opening set 19-25.

In the second set, China once again dictated the tempo, with captain Jiang Chuan and Zhang Jingyin on fire. However, the Philippines tried hard to counter-attack and trailed closely behind 15-16, but after that they became more prone with mistakes which disrupted them from gaining the lead. China stormed on to take a 24-21 edge, thanks to a Jiang Chuan’s deadly spike. The Philippines managed to save one set point,  but middle blocker Wang Dongchen nailed a sharp hit to hand China the 25-22 win in the thrilling set.

It was a similar script in the third set when the Philippines showcased their firepower in an effort of catching up with the Chinese, who set an early pace 17-16. However, the Philippine efforts did not pay off well as China maintained their momentum to build up a 21-19 advantage and stretch it to 24-21. Outside hitter Jade Alex Disquitado saved the day for Philippines with an attack, but Jiang Chuan finally ended the Philippine challenge, delivering a finishing blow with a powerful cross-court hammer. China took the set 25-22 and match.

Zhang Jingyin chipped in with 15 points from 14 kills and one block for China, while Jiang Chuan contributed another 13 points. Leo Ordiates and Joshua Umandal scored 10 points apiece on the Philippines’ straight-set loss.

Teams will continue their pool play on Monday, with Vietnam contesting their first match against Australia in Pool D and Pakistan going up against defending champions Thailand in Pool B. Qatar, silver medallists at the 2023 FIVB Challenger Cup on home soil in Doha, will make their debut effort in this tournament against Korea in Pool C and hosts Bahrain, which secured silver medal at the previous edition of the AVC Challenge Cup for Men in Chinese Taipei last year, will face off against Philippines in Pool A.



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