Surabaya, Indonesia, July 31, 2017 – Japan moved a step closer to winning their back-to-back Asian title when the reigning and eight-time champions set up a final showdown with Kazakhstan in the SMM 19th Asian Senior Men’s Volleyball Championship at the Tri Dharma Petrokimia Gymnasium on Tuesday.
Fired-up Japan completely smashed Indonesia’s sweet dreams of playing in the final clash of the top-flight competition for the first time in history after annihilating the host side in a closely-contested straight-set 25-17 26-24 25-23 battle in the semi-finals at the packed venue.
Japan, defending and eight-time Asian winners advanced to the final round for 12th time in the tournament after beating Indonesia in front of a large crowd of around 3,500 home fans.
Japan, which suffered the only 2-3 loss to Korea in their first round Pool B clash, have been initially regarded as one of the strongest title contenders in this championship. Earlier this month, Japan, starred by Yuki Ishikawa and Masahiro Yanagida, both of whom played professionally in Italian League, won the 2018 FIVB Volleyball Men’s World Championship AVC Qualifier Pool B in Canberra, Australia and the fourth place at this year’s World League Group 2.
Indonesia also won all hearts of home fans on Sunday when they stunned former successive two-time winners Iran to advance to the top four of the Asian meet for the first time in 42 years since the inaugural tournament in 1975 in Melbourne, Australia.
“We played a very good match against Indonesia at their home. In the second set, we made a lot of mistakes in serving and that’s why we struggled. Against Kazakhstan in the final, our serving and passing remain the key to success. As far as I’m concerned, Indonesia, Kazakhstan and Korea are much stronger than before. We can’t beat them easily anymore. Tomorrow will be our last match in the tournament, we just try to do our best and focus on what we have been training for,” Japan’s head coach Yuichi Nakagaichi commented after the match.
With the convincing win over the host side will battle it out with Kazakhstan for the crown.
Kazakhstan caused a major upset on Monday when they stunned title-hotshots Korea with an epic come-from-behind 20-25 15-25 25-17 25-23 16-14 victory in the semi-finals of the nine-day championship to storm into the final showdown for the second time in 24 years.
Kazakhstan, which finished a distant 11th place at the FIVB World League Group 3 this season, powered past Chinese Taipei in straight sets in the Sunday’s quarter-finals to advance to the top four teams for the second time.
In 1993 in Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand, Kazakhstan made history after entering the final round of the biennial top-tier competition for the first time, but went down to formidable Korea in straight sets. Since then, Kazakhstan have never finished among top four in the championship
“It’s beyond my expectation. I have never thought that my team can come this far. I think we played well today against Korea despite our dismal start. We will try to do our best in the final round,” Kazakhstan’s head coach Igor Nikolchenko commented after the match.
Meanwhile, former successive two-time winners Iran shrugged off their sluggish start against Australia to capture an incredible come-from-behind 3-2 (17-25 18-25 25-21 25-19 16-14) victory at the 5th-8th playoff match on Monday to next face off in the third-place playoff against China.
China, disappointed with the bitter 1-3 loss in the top-eight playoff match to Chinese Taipei, took revenge on the same rivals on Monday following their convincing 25-22 25-19 25-23 victory in the 5th-8th playoff encounter.
China, bronze medalists at the previous Asian meet in Tehran, Iran two years ago and fifth place at the FIVB World League Group 2 this season, fielded the same line-up which succumbed to a 0-3 defeat to Korea in the quarter-finals on Sunday including powerful Liu Libin, Jiang Chuan and Ji Daoshuai. Chinese Taipei were spearheaded by left-hander W Tsung-Hsuan and twin brothers Liu Hung-Min and Liu Hung-Jie.
As Australia will be pitted against Chinese Taipei in the 7th-8th playoff match on Tuesday, Iran, fielding a strong U23 squad in preparation for the next month’s FIVB Volleyball Men’s U23 World Championship in Cairo, Egypt, will strut their stuff against China for the 5th position.
In the classification round for lower-ranked teams, Saudi Arabia returned with the 15th place following a straight-set 25-17 25-20 25-19 win over Hong Kong, which resulted in the bottom finish at the overall 16-team standings.
Iraq brushed off Sri Lanka 3-1 (16-25 25-11 25-22 25-21) to claim the 13th place, with Thailand gunning down Pakistan 3-1 (25-23 18-25 25-18 25-18 in the 11th-12th playoff match. Qatar took the 9th position following their dramatic 3-1 (25-18 25-22 16-25 25-15) win over Vietnam.
At the Tri Dharma Petrokimia Gymnasium
Iran b Australia 3-2 (17-25 18-25 25-21 25-19 16-14)
China b Chinese Taipei 3-0 (25-22 25-19 25-23)
Japan b Indonesia 3-0 (25-17 26-24 25-23)
Kazakhstan b Korea 3-2 (20-25 15-25 25-17 25-23 16-14)
At the Wahana Ekspresi Poesponegoro Gymnasium
9th-10th Playoff: Qatar b Vietnam 3-1 (25-18 25-22 16-25 25-15)
11th-12th Playoff: Thailand b Pakistan 3-1 (25-23 18-25 25-18 25-18)
13th-14th Playoff: Iraq b Sri Lanka 3-1 (16-25 25-11 25-22 25-21)
15th-16th Playoff: Saudi Arabia b Hong Kong 3-0 (25-17 25-20 25-19)
Tuesday, August 1, 2017
7th-8th: Chinese Taipei v Australia
5th-6th: China v Iran
3rd-4th: Korea v Indonesia
1st-2nd: Japan v Kazakhstan
Awards presentation and Closing ceremony
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