Ardabil, Iran, May 1, 2017 – Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Japan, and hosts Iran overcame their respective rivals to register their first win at the SMM 2nd Asian Men’s U23 Volleyball Championship at Rezazadeh 6,000-seat Stadium on Monday, with Malaysia pulling off a stunning 3-1 win over Australia.
The nine-day tournament serves as the Asian qualification round, where only top two out of 11 participating teams will make the cut for the FIVB Volleyball Men’s U23 World Championship in Egypt from August 18 to 26.
Kazakhstan survived Uzbekistan scare to win five-set thriller
Kazakhstan produced a fantastic 3-2 (20-25, 25-19, 25-16, 22-25, 16-14) comeback victory over Uzbekistan. Gurin Kirill led Kazakhstan with 27 points, while Sobirov Islomjon topscored with 16 points for Uzbekistan.
Kazakhstan’s captain Azamat Rakhov attributed his team errors to the climatic situation in Ardabil as he found it “different from my country. We will however get adapted in next matches”. Still, Kazakhstan’s head coach Oleg Kuznetsov found climate not a very important factor and said: “We were not familiar with Uzbek style and they played so strong this is why we could not finish in straight sets. All the matches are important for us.”
World No.39 Kazakhstan will have a rest day on Tuesday, while Uzbekistan will next face Chinese Taipei in their Pool B preliminary match.
Malaysia stun Volleyroos on opening day
Malaysia came from behind to beat Australia in dramatic four sets 22-25, 25-19, 25-17, 25-22 in their Pool C of preliminary encounter.
Malaysia had a strong start but lost the momentum after the first technical time-out to go down 22-25 in the first set. Nevertheless, the remaining three sets saw Australia get nothing to perform against the quick Malaysians.
The substitution of Benjamin Hardy did not help the Australians as well. He found the result very disappointing and he attributed the shortcomings not to have enough time to get ready for this match as they got together only for a few days.
Malaysia on the other hand prepared for half a year and the coach found Sim Jian Qin an effective player in this match. He top-scored with 32 points and became one of the strong players to be reckoned with in this championship.
Captain Weir of Australia expressed that his team acted rather fine in high balls. He thinks the players were perfect on their own, yet the problem is they could not perform well enough together. They needed some more times to prepare. Since they are new to the tournament, they have no chance to analyze their opponents.
Australia will rest on Tuesday, while Malaysia will next go up against China.
Japan mercilessly crush Sri Lanka
Japan crushed Sri Lanka in straight sets 25-14, 25-17, 25-13. According to the Japan’s report, this was for the first time in history that Japan are sending their players with the height of close to 200cm to the competition.
Sri Lanka took an early lead in the first two sets but went down to the much stronger rivals. The Sri Lankans seemed to lose their concentration in the third set when a large crowd of the Iranian fans started to enter Rezazadeh 6000-seat hall waiting to see the home side play their first match against Pakistan.
After 2008, Japan sequentially lost two qualifications for the Olympic Games including the last year’s Rio Games. However, they are strongly determined to build up young talents and their U23 squad in particular to keep their future Olympic hopes alive.
Japan’s head coach Fumitoshi Tokunaga found their tall players very effective to improve their performance from their disappointing sixth overall at the previous Asian U23 meet two years ago in Myanmar.
Japan’s captain Taishi Onoder after this win also promised they will try their best to bring home the title this time.
Reigning champs Iran delight home fans with straight-set win over Pakistan
Iran, led by ace spiker Amin Esmaeilnejad, who scored a match-high 17 points, pulled off a stunning straight-set 25-12, 29-27, 28-26 victory over Pakistan in their Pool A clash at Rezazadeh 6000-seat Hall packed by over 8000 fans.
Iran took the comfortable opening set 25-12, but Pakistan came back much stronger in the second set when they fought back bravely to tie at 17-17 and again 24-24. Iran called a time-out when they were trailing 24-25. The on-going game was hotly contested and Pakistan performed well to lead again 26-25. The Iranian fans could not stop supporting and finally Iran finished the close second set 29-27.
The General Secretary of IRIVF, and many other high-ranked local officials watched the match on site. The breathtaking moments were repeated in the third set as well when Iran carried the support of Iranian fans to finish 28-26.
Amin Esmaeilnejad of Iran, the top scorer of the match, said: “We practised 70 days longing for such a win to make people happy. The first match was tough but we could get over it”.
Iran’s head coach Cichello expressed his gratitude from the passion and excitement of Iranian fans and found the level of tournament so high witnessing some matches before like the loss of Australia. All he intends to do is “trying to earn the result.”
Kazakhstan b Uzbekistan 3-2 (20-25, 25-19, 25-16, 22-25, 16-14)
Malaysia b Australia 3-1 (22-25, 25-19, 25-17, 25-22)
Japan b Sri Lanka 3-0 (25-14, 25-17, 25-13)
Iran b Pakistan 3-0 (25-12, 29-27, 28-26)
May 2, 2017
Thailand v Japan
Chinese Taipei v Uzbekistan
China v Malaysia
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