DAY 5 WRAP-UP
Manama, Bahrain, May 19, 2023 – Japan’s Suntory Sunbirds and Qatar’s Police Sports Team became the only teams unbeaten in the 2023 Asian Men’s Club Volleyball Championship, tipped to be the two strongest contenders while heading into the Saturday’s eagerly-anticipated semifinals at Isa Bin Rashid Halls.
The Sunbirds and Police both won their respective quarter-final pools on Friday, with the former next taking on Shahdab Yazd of Iran in a mouth-watering final four encounter and the latter facing Jakarta Bhayangkara Presisi of Indonesia in the do-or-die game. The mighty clash between Suntory Sunbirds and Shahdab Yazd proves a semifinal rematch of the previous edition in Iran last year. There, the Japanese outfits pulled off a 3-1 win against the host side.
Both contests highlight Saturday’s exciting match at Isa Bin Rashid Halls. The day’s action is scheduled to begin from 11.30am local time and continue until the night, with the last fixtures set for 7:00 pm starts. Entrance is free to all games.
The Suntory Sunbirds secured first place in quarter-final Pool E following their straight-set 27-25, 25-15, 25-18 win against Jakarta Bhayangkara Presisi on Friday. Russian Dmitriy Muserskiy had a game-high 17 points for the Japanese while Cuban Alain Junior de Armas chipped in with 15.
“This was a great victory,” said de Armas. “We are doing a great job. I hope we keep this up until the finals. We are in great shape but I think that we can do better and everyone is giving their best on the court.
“Whoever we face in the semi-finals is strong. But we have come to play and to win. We respect everyone, but we expect to win.”
Daudi Okello from Uganda scored 14 points to pace the Indonesians in the setback, while Farhan Halim finished with nine markers.
“We lost today to a stronger team and a more composed team than us,” said Okello. “We hope that tomorrow we play our game. We need to work on our serve and receive, and even our blocking is still shaky.
“All of us in the semi-finals are good teams. We’ve fought so hard to be in the top four. It doesn’t matter who comes our way, we are ready to flex.”
Qatar’s Police won their Pool F fixture against Shahdab Yazd in a five-set thriller that went nearly two-and-a-half hours. The Qataris won the opening set but then conceded the next two, before roaring back for a scintillating 3-2 (25-20, 22-25, 22-25, 25-23, 15-12) result.
Croatian Petar Dirlic had 26 points to lead Police, while Nikola Vasic added 17 and Youssef Oughlaf 12. For Shahdab, Amir Ghafour scored 18 and Meisam Salehi chipped in with 14.
Dirlic said post-game: “Even though we’ve already qualified for the semi-finals, we knew it was a really important game for us and we wanted to continue our winning streak.
“We believe that whoever we have to play against in the semi-finals, we are the better team, and we’re trying to show this in each match.”
In Friday’s other quarter-final Pool E clash, Korean Air Jumbos Pro-Volleyball Club defeated Mongolia’s Bayankhongor Crownd Geo VC 3-1 (25-21, 22-25, 25-16, 25-19).
Jeong Hanyong scored 22 points while Lee Jun added 14. For the Mongolians, Khangal Tamiraa was the top scorer with 19 points, while Bayarsaikhan Batsukh contributed 13 in the loss.
South Gas Sports Club of Iraq followed suit in Pool F with a 3-0 (25-21, 25-21, 25-19) victory over Kuwait Sporting Club. Serbian Nikola Meljanac topscored with 18 points, while Bulgarian Todor Skrimov finished with 15 for the Iraqis.
For Kuwait, Russian Roman Danilov had 16 points and Iranian Saber Kazemi and Omar Abdulrahman Alenezi both finished with six.
Jumbos are set to take on Kuwait, while Bayankhongor Crownd Geo VC face South Gas Sport Club on Saturday in fifth-to-eighth placement games.
Bahrain’s Al-Ahli Club completed their classification Pool G campaign with a resounding 3-0 (25-19, 25-23, 25-20) victory against Thailand’s Diamond Food Fine Chef-Air Force.
Mohammed Anan impressed with a game-high 23 points, while Mohammed Yaqoob added 16. Chaiwat Thungkham paced the Thais with 14 and Brazilian Evandro Dias de Souza contributed 13 markers.
The Bahrainis wrapped up this stage with the full nine points from three games and are now heading for the 9th-to-12th placement bracket in their final two assignments of the championship.
There, they will be joined by Australia’s Canberra Heat, which defeated Khaypil Sports Club of Yemen 3-1 (25-18, 16-25, 25-16, 25-23) in Friday’s other Pool G affair. Matthew Aubrey scored 23 points, while Trent O’Dea had 17. Gamal Khairalah finished with 26 points for the Yemenis while Egyptian Essa Mohmed Elhossiny scored 15.
The Yemenis will contend for places 13th to 16th, along with the Thais.
Also in the 9th-to-12th placement bracket are Atyrau VC of Kazakhstan and Taichung Bank from Chinese Taipei.
The Kazakhs defeated Taichung Bank 3-1 (35-33, 20-25, 25-20, 31-29) in a tightly-contested classification Pool H clash on Friday night. Zhaxsylyk Tleulin had 23 points and Vitaliy Vorivodin chipped in with 23 in the victory.
Chang Yu-Sheng had a fine performance of 35 points in the losing effort, while Rayshon Jackman had 12. With the result, the Kazakhs topped Pool H.
In the group’s other match on Friday, Kam Air of Afghanistan defeated Aspiring Volleyball Team from Hong Kong, China 3-0 (25-23, 25-17, 25-12). Ghulam Rasool Hidari scored 15 points, while Sayed Habib Yousufi had 12 for the Afghans. Lee Yin Chun was the top scorer for Aspiring with 11, while Poon Chi Leung added 10 markers.
Despite their win, Kam Air are set to compete for 13th through 16th places, along with Aspiring Volleyball Team.
11:30 – 5th-8th: Korean Air Jumbos Pro-Volleyball Club (Korea) v Kuwait Sporting Club (Kuwait)
14:00 – 5th-8th: Bayankhongor Crownd Geo VC (Mongolia) v South Gas Sports Club (Iraq)
16:30 – Semifinals: Suntory Sunbirds (Japan) v Shahdab Yazd (Iran)
19:00 – Semifinals: Jakarta Bhayangkara Presisi (Indonesia) v Police Sports Team (Qatar)
11:30 – 13th-16th: Khaypil Sports Club (Yemen) v Kam Air (Afghanistan)
14:00 – 13th-16th: Diamond Food Fine Chef-Air Force (Thailand) v Aspiring Volleyball Team (Hong Kong, China)
16:30 – 9th-12th: Al Ahli (Bahrain) vTaichung Bank (Chinese Taipei)
19:00 – 9th-12th: Canberra Heat (Australia) v Atyrau VC (Kazakhstan)
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