Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar, August 28, 2016 – The “SMM” Asian Men’s Club Volleyball Championship at the Wunna Theikdi Indoor Stadium in Nay Pyi Taw has reached its climax on Monday when top eight teams will be pitted in the knockout quarter-finals, with unbeaten Al-Arabi Sports Club taking on Taiwan Power and hot-favourites Bank Sarmayeh playing Maesco TPHCM.
Hot-favourites Bank Sarmayeh from Iran and Qatar’s Al-Arabi Sports Club, the only two teams which have yet to lose a match to their respective opponents in the top-flight tournament, continued their unbeaten streaks on the final day of the 1st-8th playoffs on Sunday with the former thrashing Taiwan Power from Chinese Taipei in Pool F and the latter brushing off hosts Myanmar in Pool E respectively.
Contesting at Wunna Theikdi Hall B, Japan’s Toyoda Gosei Trefuerza, which went down on Saturday to Bank Sarmayeh, overcame a daunting task to beat Altay VC in straight sets 25-20 25-18 25-20. Croat Igor Omrcen was the top scorer of Toyoda Gosei Trefuerza with 25 points including 22 kills from 35 attempts and 2 stuff blocks, while Maxim Michshenko top scored for Altay VC with 13 points.
“I think we showed good character because on Saturday we played very late and had a long match. We would like to recover fast and we showed good concentration on it. For this match, I think we served very well and that’s why we got several points from blocking. We also had good defence. It was a little bit up and down in the game but we badly wanted to win. I am very happy for this victory,” said Toyoda Gosei Trefuerza’s coach Swedish Anders Kristiansson.
Asked about the next match against Asia World Club of hosts Myanmar in the quarter-finals, he replied, ”I have yet seen them for the whole match, but I just saw them play only one set on Saturday. The host side have very good players. I can’t say anything now. I have to go back and study their tape. But I am sure it is going to be a difficult match and we cannot underestimate them,” he added.
Al-Arabi Sports Club from Qatar, which took silver medal at the previous year’s episode, upset the home crowds by outclassing Asia World Club in comfortable straight sets 25-17 25-19 25-21 in Pool E.
Asia World Club, backed by their die- hard fans at the competition venue, got off to a flying start to take an early 4-2 lead in the first set. Since then, the momentum was changed, with the strong visitors Al-Arabi Sports Club starting to produce the goods. Uros Kovacevic and Leandro Vissotto Neves became the big threat to the host team with their powerful cross-court attacks. Coming up with an improved performance and less mistakes, Al-Arabi Sports Club performed consistently to take the first set without much trouble 27-17.
In the second set, Al-Arabi Sports Club took a commanding 11-16 lead at second technical time-out as the host team still became prone with many errors from the service line and they could not prevent fierce attacks from the much taller players in the other side of the net. While trailing 19-24, Thwin Htoo Zin served into the net which handed the rivals the set win 25-19.
In the third set, Asia World Club put their acts together to hit back with sharp attacks and blocking which helped them successfully level the score at 15- all. However, Al-Arabi Sports Club still had enough in their tank to hold the rivals off and capture the set and match 25-21.
“It wasn’t a good game for us. Our opponents are very tall and and they played very aggressively. They put the pressure on us with powerful jump serves. They also took the height advantage over us. We suffered on our defense and we made many service errors. Of course, we are a young team, but I hope my team will grow up. My players have already gained experience from this match. We will try our best against Japan on Monday,” said Aung Thu, who always played professionally in Thailand almost every season including the previous season with Nakhon Ratchasima VC.
Serbian Uros Kovacevic scored a match-high 18 points for Al-Arabi Sports Club, while Aung Thu led Asia World Club with 12 points, all of them through powerful spikes.
Meanwhile, Shanghai Golden Age from China pulled off a convincing straight-set 25-20 25-18 25-19 victory over Vietnam’s Maseco TPHCM in Pool E. In the first set, both teams started with almost the same level, but the Chinese side proved more steadily at the final assault to win the first set. In the second and third sets, Maseco TPHCM had no answer to the Shanghai Golden Age’s mighty attacks, especially from Gyorgy Grozer. The Hungarian-born German helped the Chinese team score many crucial points through his powerful jump serves and thundering spikes.
Gyorgy Grozer once again was simply unstoppable to score a team-high 29 points for Shanghai Golden Age including 24 devastating attacks from 33 attempts. He also led in blocking skill with 3 points and serving with 2 aces, while Nguyen Hoang collected 13 points for Maseco TPHCM.
“I think we played better than Saturday. We didn’t start very well in the first set, but after that everything went well on track for us. We played our game and we didn’t make too many easy mistakes. It will be very difficult for us to play Altay VC of Kazakhstan on Monday,” said Grozer.
“Altay VC are a very good team with good services. But if we play carefully, we will have a chance to win. Our reception must be very good and we will try to refrain from making easy mistakes. I hope we will continue to play in the same way for the remaining matches of the tournament. We will try our best as we want to win the tournament,” he concluded.
In Pool F, Iran’s Bank Sarmayeh, with the likes of six players who experienced the Rio Games, struggled to beat Taiwan Power, whose players including Wang Min-Chun competed for eventual winners Taichung Bank last year, in hard-fought three sets 25-21 26-24 25-20.
Shahram Mahmoudi led Bank Sarmayeh with 17 points, all of them from deadly attacks, while Wang Min-Chun scored 16 points for Taiwan Power.
In the 9th-15th playoffs among lower-ranked teams at Hall C, Iraq’s Gas Al Janoob downed Hong Kong in straight sets 25-21 25-18 25-14, while Indonesia’s Polri Samator fought hard against Malaysia to beat the unfancied opponents in four sets 25-23 25-17 30-32 25-16.
At the completion of the playoffs on Sunday, Al-Arabi Sports Club captured the top spot in Pool E with 9 points from three straight wins, followed by Shanghai Golden Age, Asia World Club and Maseco TPHCM with 6, 3 and 0 point respectively.
Bank Sarmayeh made a clean sweep of Pool F with 9 points, while Toyoda Gosei Trefuerza had 4 points from one win against two losses. Altay VC finished third with 3 points and Taiwan Power in fourth position with 2 points respectively.
The Monday’s knock-out quarter-finals see the team finishing top of Pool E take on the fourth-placed side of Pool F, with the Pool F winners playing the fourth place of Pool E. Teams finishing second in each pool will next challenge teams finishing third in different pools.
In the 9th-15th classification round, the top two teams of Pool G and Pool H will compete in the 9th-12th place playoffs, while teams finishing third and fourth places will play in the 13th-15th place playoffs instead.
Shanghai Golden Age (China) b Maseco TPHCM (Vietnam) 3-0 (25-20 25-18 25-19)
Al-Arabi Sports Club (Qatar) b Asia World Club (Myanmar) 3-0 (25-17 25-19 25-21)
Toyoda Gosei Trefuerza (Japan) b Altay VC (Kazakhstan) 3-0 (25-20 25-18 25-20)
Bank Sarmayeh (Iran) b Taiwan Power (Chinese Taipei) 3-0 (25-21 26-24 25-20)
Gas Al Janoob (Iraq) b Hong Kong 3-0 (25-21 25-18 25-14)
Polri Samator (Indonesia) b Malaysia 3-1 (25-23 25-17 30-32 25-16)
TEAM RANKINGS AFTER PLAYOFFS
1. Al-Arabi Sports Club (Qatar) 9 points
2. Shanghai Golden Age (China) 6 points
3. Asia World Club (Myanmar) 3 points
4. Maseco TPHCM (Vietnam) 0 point
1. Bangk Sarmayeh (Iran) 9 points
2. Toyoda Gosei Trefuerza (Japan) 4 points
3. Altay VC (Kazakhstan) 3 points
4. Taiwan Power (Chinese Taipei) 2 points
1. Wing 46-Phitsanulok (Thailand) 6 points
2. Al Jazira Club (UAE) 3 points
3. Nebitchi (Turkmenistan) 0 point
1. Polri Samator (Indonesia) 9 points
2. Gas Al Janoob (Iraq) 6 points
3. Malaysia 3 points
4. Hong Kong 0 point
11.30am: 1F-Bank Sarmayeh (Iran) v 4E-Maesco TPHCM (Vietnam)
14.00pm: 2F-Toyoda Gosei Trefuerza (Japan) v 3E-Asia World Club (Myanmar)
16.30pm: 2E-Shanghai Golden Age (China) v 3F-Altay VC (Kazakhstan)
19.00pm: 1E-Al-Arabi Sports Club (Qatar) v 4F-Taiwan Power (Chinese Taipei)
11.30am: 3G-Turkmenistan v 4H-Hong Kong
14.00pm: 1G-Wing 46-Phitsanulok (Thailand) v 2H-Gas Al Janoob (Iraq)
16.30pm: 1H-Polri Samator (Indonesia) v 2G-Al Jazira Club (UAE)