Ardabil, Iran, May 3, 2017 – Indomitable China overcame towering Australia 3-1 (25-18, 24-26, 25-21, 25-22) to top Pool C, helping make a dream come true for Malaysia in advancing to the quarter-finals as the pool’s runners-up at the SMM 2nd Asian Men’s U23 Volleyball Championship at the 6,000-seater Rezazadeh Stadium on Wednesday.

Malaysia earlier beat Australia, but went down to China and had to wait and see the result of the match between China and Australia if they can keep their hopes of advancing to the quarter-finals alive. Malaysia were on cloud nine on Wednesday learning that China beat the Aussies.

The first set saw China outscore Australia, which seemed to get off to a slow start. With scintillating blocks and powerful jump serves, China snatched the set 25-18.

China still gained the upper hand in the second set to initially lead 8-5 at the first technical timeout, but the Olympian coach of Australia Benjamin Hardy fielded a couple of substitutions to help tie it at 11-11. Despite a fierce fight from the rivals, Australia came up with better strategy to close the hotly-contested set 26-24.

China could no more let the Australians run away with the win as they came out in full force in the third set. Benjamin learned this as the source of most of his players’ errors which made them unable to reach success in this set and Australia lost 21-25 in the set. Australia reacted aggressively in the fourth set but China fought consistently to finish 25-22 to move up to the quarter-finals as the Pool C’s winners.

Benjamin Hardy, who took part in two Olympic Games and Four World Championship, carried a wealth of experiences into the court and said: “My players are getting together from different parts of the world as some of them were in Canada and some others from Europe. Generally speaking, I am satisfied with their performance as their attitude improved much better in this match.”

China’s head coach Zhang Qiyong found it a tough match against Australia and said: “The level of matches here is so high. China are always tough for each team. Yet, my players are so young and inexperienced and still need some more times to learn.”

China are to face Pakistan, the Pool A’s runners-up, on Thursday.


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