Taipei, Chinese Taipei, April 18, 2019 – Slovakian-born Boris Kempa handed TNC Kazchrome VC crucial 19 points as the Kazakh side outclassed India’s Chennai Spartans in straight sets 25-21 25-20 25-17 on their opening match at the 2019 Asian Men’s Club Volleyball Championship at the University of Taipei (Tianmu) Gymnasium on Thursday.

Kempa’s 19 points came from 13 attacks from 17 attempts and 5 aces, while Jerome Vinith led Chennai Spartans with 11 points including 9 kills from 19 attempts.

TNC Kazchrome VC fielded many star spikers including Maxim Michshenko, the tall and towering Dmitriy Vovnenko, whose amazing height average of 212cm made him the tournament’s tallest player, and Anton Kuznetsov who led Atyrau to the silver medal at the previous edition in Myanmar last year, while Latvian Sorokins Ruslans, Canadian Rudy Verhoeff and the 204cm-tall GS Akin spearheaded Chennai Spartans.

The clash was initially expected to be a tight battle between the two sides as they were searching for their taste of first win in this top-flight tournament. However, TNC Kazchrome defied all the odds and managed to power past their lower-ranked rivals in comfortable straight sets.

Despite a poor start to trail the Indians from the beginning of the first set, devastating left-hander Boris Kempa seemingly gave TNC Kazchrome some breathing space as he hit spike after spike to put the Kazakh side in front 12-9. Chennai Spartans quickly hit back, with GS Akhin using his height advantage to attack effectively at the net to help his team narrow the gap 18-21. Michshenko was looking increasingly dangerous from spike range as Kazchrome still kept their noses in front at both technical timeouts. The Kazakh side took the first set 25-21.

Conceding one set, Chennai Spartans were helped by the excellent defensive work of Latvian Sorokins and libero CK Ratheesh in the second set as the Indians gradually grew in confidence and played better to narrow the margin 16-17. The Kazakh team continued their mighty attacks, with Michshenko and Kuznetsov putting the team on the brink of the set. The Kazchrome’s challenge at the ball in-ball out was successful, giving them a commanding 24-20 lead and the Indians’ erratic netplay a moment later ended the set for the Kazakhs as they claimed the second set 25-20.

The third set turned out to be a one-sided battle as Chennai Spartans made a dismal start to trail in a wide margin 0-5. They tried to claw their ways back into game, but failed to make the best of their chances. Kazchrome easily won the set 25-17 and a convincing three-setter.

“We did take a long trip from Kazakhstan to Taipei and that’s reasons why it was very difficult when we played our first match. We spent two weeks in training intensively in preparation for this championship. I think It’s one of significant tournaments for my players to come and gain new experience here. Since there are many strong teams here, it’s interesting to take on all these teams. Against Qatar’s Al-Rayyan Club in our next match, it’s too early to say anything about our expectation. We will do our best ,” TNC Kazchrome’s head coach Sergei Gribov commented after the match.

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