Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar, August 30, 2016 – Bank Sarmayeh and Al-Arabi Sports Club, the only two unbeaten teams in the “SMM” 2016 Asian Men’s Club Volleyball Championship at the Wunna Thekdi Indoor Stadium in Nay Pyi Taw, will battle it out for the eventual title and the lone ticket up for grabs for the 2017 FIVB Men’s Club Volleyball World Championship.
Bank Sarmayeh from Iran brushed off China’s Shanghai Golden Age in pulsating straight sets 28-26 25-16 25-21 in the semi-finals on Tuesday, while the other semi-final clash saw Al-Arabi Sports Club move a step closer to winning their second Asian Men’s Club title following their successful debut in 2012 in Shanghai, China. The determined Qatari side, which claimed silver medal at the previous edition in Chinese Taipei, narrowly edged out Japan’s Toyoda Gosei Trefuerza in hard-fought five-set thriller 25-19 19-25 23-25 28-26 15-9 in exhausting 123 minutes.
In the first semi-final encounter at Hall B, Bank Sarmayeh, which have yet lost a match to their respective rivals in the top-notch competition, remained in their formidable line-up with the likes of the Rio-bound players. They consisted of Shahram Mahmoudi, Milad Ebadipour Gharah, Farhad Ghaemi, Mohammad Mousavi Eraghi Seyed, Adel Gholami and Mehdi Mahdavi.
The Iranians got the first set off to a flying start after taking an early 13-11 lead. Farhad Ghaemi came up with a devastating back-row attack to help Bank Sarmayeh advance 14-11. Chinese head coach Shen Qiong called a timeout to improve his team’s tactics. Nevertheless, both teams similarly suffered on service errors which saw the game become a see-saw battle in the opening set.
The score was levelled at 19-all until Iranian coach Mostafa Karkhaneh sent Poland import setter Lukasz Zygadlo to the competition court to revive the team’s fortunes and since then, the Iranian attackers got on fire, scoring from every angle of the court.While the Iranian side were leading 27-26 at the final assault, Hungarian-born German Gyorgy Grozer carried out a powerful attack, but was effectively blocked. Bank Sarmayeh took the closely-contested set 28-26.
In the second set, the Chinese side suffered on service reception and could not penetrate the opponents’ solid defence. Adel Gholami frustrated the Chinese with his powerful jump serves to help the Iranians lead commandingly 24-16 before Farhad Ghaemi finished the set 25-16, thanks to his deadly spike from the back row.
In the third set, the Chinese found their opponents too strong. They could not stop the Iranian onslaughts led by fast attacker Seyed. Bank Sarmayeh captured the set 25-21, match and a final berth.
Mousavi Eraghi Seyed led Bank Sarmayeh with 15 points comprising11 kills and 4 blocks, while Gyorgy Grozer scored a match-high 16 points for the Chinese team including 13 kills from 39 attempts.
“We had a good preparation for this match. During the match, we knew we have to win. We played very carefully and we knew what we were doing. Before this tournament, we correctly selected the best players to strengthen our team. Shanghai Golden Age are a professional team with two talented players. But our team members are also professional because all the selected players are very smart and today they played exceptionally well. We played according to the game plan and it paid off impressively,” said Iranian coach Mostafa Karkhaneh.
“Tomorrow will be the final match for us. It is always special and we have to do our best. We know it is going to be a difficult day, but I’m confident that my players will come up with good teamwork. Our goal is to win this tournament. We will try our best to achieve our goal. We have prepared ourselves for a possible match with the Japanese, but we haven’t yet played Al-Arabi Sports Club before. Both Toyoda Gosei Trefuerza and Al-Arabi Sports Club are very strong and now we will focus on the final match against Al-Arabi,” he added.
Meanwhile, the tough match between Al-Arabi Sports Club and Toyoda Gosei Trefuerza were stretched to gruelling five sets, which were finally won by the Qatari team 25-19 19-25 23-25 28-26 15-9.
Ahmed Diab top scored with `17 points for Al-Arabi Sports Club, while Croatia import Igor Omrcen scored a team-high 44 points for Toyoda Gosei Trefuerza including 41 points from 78 attempts and 2 blocks.
“It was a very tough match. We expected a very hard game before the match. Toyoda Gosei Trefuerza played very, very well. In the opening set, we started well, but the Japanese sideplayed aggressively in the next two sets. We were not good in our sideout attacks and we also committed many unforced mistakes. In the fourth set, I fielded some substitutions in Jorge Garcia Gonzalez and Miguel Dalmaw Calderin and they made a huge difference in this set, so I continued to let them play in the fifth set. We started to retrieve their attacks better and our rivals started to get tired at the end of the match,” commented Al-Arabi Sports Club’s coach Lajnef Maaouia.
“We are very happy to be in the final. The Iranians are a very strong team with promising players. Most of their players come from the Iran national team. However, we will do our best to win the final showdown. We have to be positive and give it 100 per cent.”
In the 5th- 8th playoffs, Taiwan Power from Chinese Taipei outclassed hosts Asia World Club in exciting straight sets 25-21 30-28 25-21, while Altay VC were embattled ahead of the magnificent comeback five-set 31-33 25-21 25-21 21-25 16-14 victory over Vietnam’s Maseco TPHCM.
Elsewhere, Malaysia finished 14th place in the championship after thrashing Hong Kong in straight sets 25-18 25-21 25-18 in the 13th-14th place playoff, while Polri Samator from Indonesia fought hard against Gas Al Janoob to beat the Iraqi team 3-2 sets 25-19 25-20 12-25 18-25 15-12 for the 9th position. Earlier, Thailand’s Wing 46-Phitsanulok claimed the 11th place as UAE’s Al Jazira Club did not show up at the competition venue for the 11th-12th playoff encounter.
On Wednesday, the final day of the competition, Kazakhstan’s Altay VC will take on Taiwan Power in the 5th-6th playoff at 11.30am, followed by the 7th-8th playoff between Vietnam’s Maseco TPHCM and Myanmar’s Asia World Club at 14.00pm.
China’s Shanghai Golden Age will be pitted against Japan’s Toyoda Gosei Trefuerza in the third-place playoff at around 16.30pm, while Iran’s Bank Sarmayeh and Al-Arabi Sports Club from Qatar will battle it out for the eventual crown and the lone ticket to strut their stuff at the next year’s FIVB Men’s Club Volleyball World Championship.
The competitive competition will then be followed by the awards presentation and the closing ceremony, while individual awards will also be announced during the awards presentation earlier.
Altay VC (Kazakhstan) b Maseco TPHCM (Vietnam) 3-2 (31-33 25-21 25-21 21-25 16-14)
Taiwan Power (Chinese Taipei) b Asia World Club (Myanmar) 3-0 (25-21 30-28 25-21)
Bank Sarmayeh (Iran) b Shanghai Golden Age (China) 3-0 (28-26 25-16 25-21)
Al-Arabi Sports Club (Qatar) b Toyoda Gosei Trefuerza (Japan) 3-2 (25-19 19-25 23-25 28-26 15-9)
Malaysia b Hong Kong 3-0 (25-18 25-21 25-18)
Polri Samator (Indonesia) b Gas Al Janoob (Iraq) 3-2 (25-19 25-20 12-25 18-25 15-12)
Wednesday, August 31, 2016
11.30am: 5th-6th: Altay VC (Kazakhstan) v Taiwan Power (Chinese Taipei)
14.00pm: 7th-8th: Maseco TPHCM (Vietnam) v Asia World Club (Myanmar)
16.30pm: Third-place playoff: Shanghai Golden Age (China) v Toyoda Gosei Trefuerza (Japan)
19.00pm: Championship match: Bank Sarmayeh (Iran) v Al-Arabi Sports Club (Qatar)