Udon Thani, Thailand, February 14, 2020 – Day 2 of the 2020 Asian Senior Beach Volleyball Championships at Wessuwan Sports Stadium, Udon Thani Municipality here brought lots of thrills and spills as some big names crashed out and all Chinese teams advanced to the women’s quarter-finals.

Top seeds Varapatsorn Radarong/Khanittha Hongpak becoming the lone survivors of the Thailand’s biggest collapse was a highlight but there were plenty more tales that came out of the second day of the topflight tournament. It was a scorching hot day with the temperature highs around 36 degrees Celsius, but although the direct impact of hotter and more energy-sapping conditions could be felt, it failed to dampen participating teams’ enthusiasm to give their all outs in this competitive competition.

Strong teams made their marks in the men’s event, which saw three teams apiece from Australia, China and Iran secure their places in the single elimination of the last 16 teams. Two teams each from Japan and Kazakhstan and one team apiece from New Zealand, Chinese Taipei and hosts Thailand also joined the fray in that round.

Second seeds Gao Peng/Li Yang, silver medallists at the previous Asian meet back home in Maoming and who got the Udon Thani edition off to a disappointing start on Thursday with a 0-2 loss to Kazakhstan’s Dmitriy Yakovlev/Sergey Bogatu, staged a comeback 2-1 (19-21 21-11 15-9) win against Yan Tingyang/Li Jie in the all-Chinese battle on Friday. Gao Peng and Li Yang, the last year’s champions at the Samila Open Asian Beach Tour in Thailand, will next go up against Australians Zachary Schubert/Maximilian Guehrer in the Saturday’s quarter-finals.

Third seeds Wu Jiaxin/Ha Likejiang also booked their berths in the quarter-finals following a comfortable 21-10 21-12 win against Iranians Javad Firouzpourbandpei/Alireza Aghajanighasab on Friday. However, a daunting task awaits the Chinese bronze medallists in Maoming when they will next challenge another Iranian pairing, Raoufi Rahman/Mirzaali Abolhamed, who survived a scare from Chinese Taipei’s Wang/Hsieh to pull out a terrific comeback 2-1 (20-22 21-19 15-13) win.

Raoufi Rahman had already captured the Asian title in 2017 when he partnered Bahman Salemi to hand Iran the second gold medal in history. Iran’s first gold in the Asian meet came in 2011 in Haikou, China when Parviz Farrokhi/Aghmohammad Salagh reigned supreme.

Bahman Salemiinjehboroun/Arash Vakili became the third Iranian pairing who made it to the round of the last 16 teams on Friday, but missed the cut for the quarter-finals following a 1-2 (16-21 24-22 11-15) loss to Kazakhs Alexandr Dyachenko/Alexey Sidorenko, gold medallists at the 2014 Asian Games in Incheon, Korea.

Australian fourth seeds Christopher McHugh/Damien Schumann, gold medallists at the 2018 Commonwealth Games at Gold Coast, smashed hosts Thailand’s dreams when they rallied past top seeds Surin Jongkhlang/Banlue Nakprakhlong, the only Thailand men’s team in the round of the last 16, in a three-set thriller 21-8 17-21 16-14 on Friday. McHugh/Schumann are due to next take on Japanese Takahashi Takumi/Hasegawa Yoshiumi in the quarter-finals.

Zachary Schubert/Maximilian Guehrer and 8th-seeds Cole Durant/Paul Burnett were the other two Australian pairings entering the round of the last 16 teams on Friday, but the in-form former proved stronger to beat the latter 2-0 (24-22 21-14) in the all-Australians affair for a place in the next round.

The Saturday’s quarter-finals feature two teams apiece from China, Australia and Kazakhstan, with one team each from Japan and Iran ready for a sturdy challenge. However, Kazakhstan are assured of having one team in the afternoon semi-finals when Dyachenko/Sidorenko will battle it out with Yakovlev/Bogatu in the all-Kazakhs quarter-finals.

Meanwhile, all four teams of hosts Thailand, three teams apiece from China and Japan, two teams each from Australia and Chinese Taipei and one team apiece from Kazakhstan and Vanuatu reached the round of the last 16 teams in the women’s event on Friday. However, only China and Australia remained on course, with all their teams safely through to the Saturday’s quarter-finals.

Varapatsorn Radarong/Khanittha Hongpak walked over the injury-hit team of Tanarattha Udomchavee/Rumpaipruet Numwong in the all-Thais battle in the round of the last 16 teams on Friday. The other two Thai pairings, Chanthira Khanok/Yodsaphat Pakham and Saowaros Tangkaeo/Sumintra Sow, similarly succumbed to straight-set losses to Chinese and Japanese counterparts respectively to crash out of the tournament, leaving only the top-seeds Varapatsorn/Khanittha to carry the Thailand’s lone hope on home competition.

Chanthira/Yodsaphat proved Chinese Wang Jingzhe/Wen Shuhui too strong to go down 17-21 14-21 in 34 minutes, while Saowaros/Sumintra lost a one-sided clash 11-21 12-21 against Japanese Sayaka Mizoe/Takemi Nishibori. Sayaka Mizoe had already captured two FIVB World Tour gold medals in 2018 when she teamed up with Suzuka Hashimoto to win the World Tour 2-star event in Jinjiang and 1-star event in Tuan Chau Island.

In the Saturday’s quarter-final clash, Sayaka/Takemi will go up against Thai hopefuls Varapatsorn/Khanittha.

Japanese fourth seeds Megumi Murakami/Miki Ishii, silver medallists at the 2018 Asian Games in Indonesia, came from behind to beat Chinese Taipei’s Yu Ya-Hsuan/Pan Tzu-Yi 2-1 (22-24 21-12 15-7) in exhausting 48 minutes to next challenge Australia’s Nicole Laird/Becchara Palmer in the Saturday’s quarter-finals.

Laird/Palmer, who won the 2019 FIVB World Tour Sydney 3-star gold medal in front of their passionate home fans at Manly Beach, struggled to beat Kazakhstan’s Irina Tsimbalova/Samalikova Bakhtygul in hard-fought three-setter 28-30 21-13 15-9 in 56 minutes on Friday.

The other Japanese duo, Akiko Hasegawa/Azusa Futami, found Phoebe Bell/Brittany Kendall a tough nut to crack to go down to the stronger Australians 19-21 13-21 in 35 minutes. Bell had already captured the FIVB World Tour to her name as she partnered Jessyka Ngaumo to win the 2018 World Tour 1-star event in Daegu, Korea.

Australians Bell/Kendall will face a stiff challenge in the quarter-finals, where they will go up against Chinese second seeds Wang Fan/Xia Xinyi, gold medallists at the 2018 Asian Games in Indonesia and silver medallists at the previous Asian meet back home in Maoming.

Wang Fan/Xia Xinyi, who also claimed gold medal at the last year’s 7th CISM Military World Games at home in Wuhan as well as silver medal at the FIVB World Tour 2-star event in Nanjing, powered past Chinese Taipei’s Kou Nai-Han/Liu Pi Hsin 21-11 21-12 in 30 minutes. Kou/Liu had already won two FIVB World Tour gold medals consisting of the 2018 World Tour 1-star event in Ulsan, Korea and the 2019 World Tour 1-star event in Satun, Thailand.

Third seeds Wang Xinxin/Xue Chen, who last year finished 9th place at four World Tour 4-star events in Qinzhou (China), Espinho (Portugal), Ostrava (Czech Republic) and Xiamen (China), faced no issues in shutting out Vanuatu’s Sherysyn Toko/Miller Pata 21-18 21-12.

Wang/Xue will next face off against Wang Jingzhe/Wen Shuhui in the all-Chinese quarter-finals battle, leaving China to have at least one team in the afternoon semi-finals.

With participating teams vying for Asian ranking points and attractive cash prizes up for grabs, the 2020 Asian Senior Beach Volleyball Championships continue on Saturday in the quarter-finals and semi-finals in both men’s and women’s events. The third-place playoffs and the two final matches will be held Sunday, followed by the awards presentation and the closing ceremony.

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