Surabaya, Indonesia, July 27, 2017 – Prolific Moon Sungmin silenced the boisterous home fans with his high-powered attacks as Korea blitzed Indonesia in thrilling four-setter in their first top-eight playoff encounter of the SMM 19th Asian Senior Men’s Volleyball Championship at the Tri Dharma Petrokimia Gymnasium on Thursday.
Korea, former four-time Asian winners and sixth at the FIVB World League Group 2 this season, kept the Indonesian fans under their thumb before putting the host side in the shade with an impressive 25-21 20-25 25-14 25-16 win to continue their remarkable unbeaten run in the top-tier, nine-day competition.
Hefty Moon Sungmin, who stands 198cm tall and weighs 90kg, tore the Indonesian defence into shreds with his exceptional attacks to score a match-high 20 points for Korea including 18 kills from 34 attempts. Jung Jiseok contributed 14 kills and Jin Sangheon added 3 points through his solid blocks. Shin Yungsuk and Park Joohyeong produced 2 points apiece from well-placed serves.
Rivan Nurmulki led Indonesia with 18 points from 16 kills and one each in blocking and serving. Scoring machine Rendy Fabricant Tamamilang, who emerged as the hosts’ top scorer in past matches, fired 13 attack hits, one block and one serve.
“Indonesia played very well in the first two sets and we have to read their strategic plan carefully. Although playing before the Indonesia’s cheering home crowds, I don’t think my team will be frustrated with any pressure and anxiety. Actually, we turned the tide as the Indonesian fans became silenced instead. On Saturday, we will play the second playoff match against Kazakhstan. As they are a very tall team, we have to play a little bit faster to break their attacks,” Korea’s head coach Kim Hochul commented after the match.
China, disappointed with a straight-set loss to Australia the previous day, regained their pride on Thursday following a stunning 27-25 25-19 25-20 victory over former successive two-time Asian champions Iran, this time fielding a strong U23 squad in their final preparation for the next month’s FIVB Volleyball Men’s U23 World Championship in Cairo, Egypt.
Australia, which have already clinched a ticket to contest the 2018 FIVB Volleyball Men’s World Championship in Italy and Bulgaria after a second-placed finish at the AVC Qualifier Pool B at home, overpowered China in a 3-0 demolition on Wednesday and were confident of repeating the similar feat when they took on Chinese Taipei the following day. However, things turned sour for the Aussies as they failed to make their mark to go down fighting 1-3 (23-25 17-25 26-24 18-25) to the well-established Chinese Taipei.
Title-hotshots Japan, the World Championship AVC Qualifier Pool B winners who pulled off a surprise 3-1 win over defending champions and hosts Iran in the final showdown of the previous edition two years ago in Tehran, used a quick play and splendid combination attacks from Yuki Ishikawa and Masahiro Yanagida to thrash Kazakhstan in straight sets 25-18 25-19 25-23.
At the end of the first top-eight playoff match on Thursday, Korea became the only unbeaten team in the championship to stay at the top of Pool E, followed by Japan, Kazakhstan and Indonesia. Australia set an early pace in Pool F, with Iran, China and Chinese Taipei still hot on their heels. The Saturday’s second playoff matches among the top eight teams will decide the respective 1-4 rankings in Pool E and Pool F as well as their certain rivals in the knock-out quarter-finals the following day.
Meanwhile, in the 9th-16th playoff matches for the lower-ranked teams at the Wahana Ekspresi Poesponegoro Gymnasium on Thursday, Qatar, fourth place at the previous edition in Tehran, Iran two years ago, succumbed to another bitter defeat. Beaten by Indonesia in hard-fought five-setter the previous match to crash out from the top eight teams, the Qataris on Thursday could not regain their top form to suffer another 3-2 (25-19 24-26 20-25 25-23 12-15) loss to Sri Lanka.
Pakistan, fresh from powering past Iraq in dramatic four sets the previous day, continued their good run after coming from behind to beat Hong Kong in hard-fought five sets 21-25 22-25 25-20 25-21 15-6, while Vietnam struggled to beat Saudi Arabia in closely-contested four-setter 24-26 25-21 29-27 25-17.
The last match of the day saw Thailand, gold medallists at the South East Asian (SEA) Games, recover from the first-set down 20-25 to Iraq to win the remaining three sets 25-12 25-23 25-21.
Friday is the rest day. The second playoff encounters for both the top eight teams and the 9th-16th classification will resume the following day.
1st-8th playoffs Pool E
Japan b Kazakhstan 3-0 (25-18 25-19 25-23)
Korea b Indonesia 3-1 (25-21 20-25 25-14 25-16)
1st-8th playoffs Pool F
China b Iran 3-0 (27-25 25-19 25-20)
Chinese Taipei b Australia 3-1 (25-23 25-17 24-26 25-18)
9th-16th playoffs Pool G
Sri Lanka b Qatar 3-2 (19-25 26-24 25-20 23-25 15-12)
Vietnam b Saudi Arabia 3-1 (24-26 25-21 29-27 25-17)
9th-16th playoffs Pool H
Pakistan b Hong Kong 3-2 (21-25 22-25 25-20 25-21 15-6)
Thailand b Iraq 3-1 (20-25 25-12 25-23 25-21)
Saturday, July 29, 2017
At the Wahana Ekspresi Poesponegoro Gymnasium
11.30am: China v Chinese Taipei
14.00pm: Iran v Australia
16.30pm: Kazakhstan v Korea
19.00pm: Japan v Indonesia
At the Tri Dharma Petrokimia Gymnasium
11.30am: Qatar v Vietnam
14.00pm: Pakistan v Thailand
16.30pm: Saudi Arabia v Sri Lanka
19.00pm: Hong Kong v Iraq
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