Roi Et, Thailand, March 16, 2019 – Gritty performances on the second day of the SMM Asian U21 Beach Volleyball Championships at the Ban Nong Ya Ma Community School Courts left hosts Thailand, China and Indonesia unscathed.

Strong teams continued their remarkable run on Saturday to dominate their pools at the completion of the pool round-robin preliminaries and advance to the round of last 16 teams.

In the men’s event, Thailand remained invincible to top Pools A and E, while China claimed their top spot in Pools B and F. Pools C and D were dominated by Kazakhstan and Australia respectively, with Indonesia topping Pools G and H.

The women’s competition saw Thailand capture their top spot in Pools A and B, with China ruling Pools C and D. Australia, Chinese Taipei, New Zealand and Indonesia topped Pools E, F, G and H respectively.

On Saturday, top seeds Phanupong Thanan/Phichakon Narathon of Thailand 1 made it to the next round as Pool A winners as they claimed two straight wins in the pool round-robin preliminaries including a walkover from Japan 2’s Goto/Hayashi, who were forced to withdraw from the match as they earlier suffered from heat stroke.

However, the Japanese duo also moved to the next round as they finished second in the Pool.

Another Thai pairing, Santitham K./Poravid T, also advanced to the next round. The host team earlier thrashed Japanese Horikawa/Adachi 21-12 21-16 before defeating Kazakhstan’s Yelubayev/Belunin 21-14 21-13 and Chinese Taipei’s Chen Y.T./Zhang F.M 21-10 21-23 15-11 respectively to become the Pool E winners.

Second seeds Abolhassan Khakizadeh/Amir Malmir could not go the distance in this top-flight competition as the Iranians finished third in Pool B. Three teams in this Pool had the similar performance with a 1-1 record, but China 1’s Liu Jingqui/Xu Yuan fared better to capture the top spot, followed by Pakistan’s Afaq/Zarnab.

The Iranians did not start well in this tournament as they lost in straight sets to Pakistan’s Afaq/Zarnab in their first match, but they revived their fortunes to beat Jingqui Lui,Xu Yuan of China 1 in thrilling three setter 20-22, 21-16, 17-15.

“Unfortunately, we lost our first match against Pakistan, but this game against China we feel more relaxed and have more time to rest. That is why we won,” said Abolhassan.

Kazakhstan 1’s Nurdos Aldash/Abdulmajid Mokhammad topped Pool C as expected when the third seeds continued their great form to shut out Ting Chen You/Ming Zhang Feng of Chinese Taipei 21-16, 21-18.

Indonesia’s two pairings, Daffa/Neng and Yosi/Dimas were also devastating to make a clean sweep of victories in their Pools G and H respectively.

In the women’s event, top seeds and home favorites Chanthira Khanok/Yodsaphat Pakham remained in dazzling form when they won both Pool A encounters including a 2-0 (21-16, 21-13) victory over New Zealand’s Allison-Carnie/Clarke on Saturday.

“We still have something to adjust a little bit as we have yet to get used to conditions of the competition courts,” said Chantira.

“We also have to improve our first ball reception and have to be more precise. We will bring our experience that we have played against experienced players in the World Tour to adapt for use here. I hope we will have an improvement,” she added.

Thailand 2’s Thatsarida Singchuea /Pawarun Chanthawichai, gold medallists at the previous edition here in Roi Et two years ago and also the Asian U19 champions in Nakhon Pathom, Thailand last year, also recorded two consecutive wins to top Pool B.

Thatsarida and Pawarun earlier beat Japan’s Kawasaki/Shigechika in straight sets 21-16, 21-11 and went on their exceptional form to beat Wen Yi-Chin /Pei Hu Xiao of Chinese Taipei 1 21-14, 21-12.

“I am very happy to get two victories in a row but I think we can play better than this,” said Thatsarida.

“Today, it’s quite windy which gave us difficulties to control the ball. The courts here are quite good and the sand is also soft which suits our playing style. We have yet known who will be our rivals in the next round, but we will try our best.”

According to the match schedule, the Thai duo are due to next take on Kazakhstan’s Ukolova/Rubilko in the round of last 16 teams on Sunday.

China 2’s Wang Yingpei/Hong Xie dominated Pool D after two impressive victories including a win over third seeds Tiaan Smith/Jana Milutinovic of Australia 1. The Chinese pairing will next play Malaysians Tasha/Sin Xi on Sunday.

The four-day competition continues on Sunday with the round of the last 16 teams starting at 8:30am local time, followed by the quarter-finals in the afternoon. The semi-finals and finals will take place the following day.

The SMM Asian U21 Beach Volleyball Championships serve as the qualification tournament for the FIVB Beach Volleyball U21 World Championships to be held later this year in Udon Thani, Thailand. Top five teams (nations) from each gender will make the cut for the world meet.

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