Ardabil, Iran, May 3, 2017 – Hosts Iran, Pakistan, Japan, Thailand, Chinese Taipei, Kazakhstan, China and Malaysia claimed their spots at the last eight teams at the end of the pool round-robin preliminaries at the SMM 2nd Asian Men’s U23 Volleyball Championship at the 6,000-seater Rezazadeh Stadium on Wednesday.
Thailand secured quarter-final berth after 3-1 win over Sri Lanka
Thailand overcame a daunting task in their decisive match against Sri Lanka to produce a fantastic comeback 3-1 (23-25, 25-21, 25-19, 25-18) victory over the fighting rivals.
Thailand found it very difficult to stop Sri Lanka in the first set, which they went down in a tight battle 23-25. Sri Lanka continued their dominance in the second set by leading 3-0. Coach Monchai Supajirakul of Thailand used better tactics to annul the opponents’ plans and the Thai youngsters hit back superbly to win the remaining three sets 25-21 25-19 25-18. With the dramatic win, Thailand finished second in Pool D to make the cut for the quarter-finals.
Coach Monchai said that Thailand did not underestimate the opponents and claimed that they lost the first set because “the match was crucial for both sides. Sri Lanka and Thailand went all-out for the same thing – victory. That’s why the match was so close.”
Thai captain Mawin Maneewong said, “On Wednesday, we were tired of playing a five-set match against Japan and exhaustion continued to this match against Sri Lanka, to whom we lost in the first set.”
Pusit Phonarin, who played only the first two sets, led Thailand with 17 points.
Chinese Taipei beat Kazakhstan to top Pool B
Chinese Taipei and Kazakhstan, which have already confirmed their presence in the quarter-finals since the second day of the tournament after both sides brushed off Uzbekistan in their pool preliminaries, battled it out on Wednesday to decide the Pool B’s winners and Chinese Taipei fared better to beat the towering rivals in straight sets 25-21, 27-25, 25-23.
As the Pool B’s winners, Chinese Taipei are next to take on Pool D’s runners-up Thailand on Thursday.
Chinese Taipei head coach Yu Ching-Fang found Kazakhstan a tough team and said: “We did not analyze them before the match and that’s why it was difficult for us to match them tactically. However, I’m still happy that we eventually beat them. We next play Thailand and I hope my players will do their best against the Thais. We have to beat them and try to progress to the semi-finals.”
China pulled off a dramatic 3-1 win over Australia
China overcame the towering Australia 3-1 (25-18, 24-26, 25-21, 25-22), helping make a dream come true for Malaysia for their chance to play in the quarter-finals. Malaysia earlier stunned Australia, but went down to China and had to wait and see the result of the match between China and Australia if they can still keep their hopes of playing in the quarter-finals alive. With the China’s victory over Australia, Malaysia were on cloud nine to progress to the quarter-finals.
Australia’s head coach 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.”
At the end of the pool preliminary matches on Wednesday, Iran top Pool A with three points from one win over losers Pakistan. However, both teams qualified for the last eight teams. Chinese Taipei topped Pool B with five points from two straight wins, followed by Kazakhstan with two points from one win against one loss. Uzbekistan came in third place with two points from two straight losses.
China topped Pool C with six points from two wins in a row, while Malaysia finished second with three points from one win against one loss. Winless Australia came in third place with two straight losses. Japan claimed the Pool D top spot with five points from two straight wins, while Thailand finished second with four points from one win against one loss and Sri Lanka were in third position with no point from two straight losses.
The playoff matches are due to be held on Thursday for the last eight teams and less-ranked sides for the 9th-11th classification round.
In the playoff matches for the last eight teams on Thursday, Iran will meet Malaysia and China challenge Pakistan in Pool E, while Pool F sees Chinese Taipei take on Thailand and Japan play Kazakhstan. Uzbekistan will face Sri Lanka in their first match in the classification round.
Thailand b Sri Lanka 3-1 (23-25, 25-21, 25-19, 25-18)
Chinese Taipei b Kazakhstan 3-0 (25-21, 27-25, 25-23)
China b Australia 3-1 (25-18, 24-26, 25-21, 25-22)
Thursday, May 4, 2017
Uzbekistan v Sri Lanka
Chinese Taipei v Thailand
Iran v Malaysia
Pakistan v China
Japan v Kazakhstan
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