IRAN STRUGGLE INTO QUARTER-FINALS AT ASIAN WOMEN’S U17 CHAMPIONSHIP
Nakhon Pathom. Thailand, May 23, 2018 – Iran struggled hard to beat Malaysia in dramatic four sets to secure their quarter-final berth in the 12th Asian Women’s U17 Volleyball Championship at the Nakhon Pathom Municipality Gymnasium on Wednesday.
The 3-1 (25-27 25-20 25-22 25-21) comeback win gave Iran a chance to next go up against reigning champions Japan in the knock-out quarter-finals, while Malaysia were relegated to the 9th-12th place playoffs.
Sorkh Negar Hoseinnezhad scored a match-high 19 points including 14 kills from 45 attempts for Iran, while Elane Poorsaleh Shahdehsari contributed 14 points. Jia Tian Yong topscored Malaysia with 25 points but his efforts were not enough.
Iran got off to a great start to lead 5-0 in the first set, but Malaysia, with Yong Jia Tian and Wong Chroe Rong Eoon spearheading, hit back aggressively to narrow the margin 12-15. Iran, whose height average is 180cm against the rivals’ 164cm, used their height advantage to attack fiercely and advanced 24-19, needing only one more point to win the set. However, Malaysia proved that there is life after death in a sporting event as they put their acts together to win point by point and catch the taller opponents at 24-24. The Malaysians continued a good run to clinch the set 27-25.
Going down one set, Iran came to life in the second set after leading by a wide margin 22-17. To make short work of the Malaysians, Iran improved their tactics to baffle the rivals. Their attempts were handsomely rewarded following a 25-20 win in the set.
In the third set, Iran remained in great form to lead 16-9 and stretch it to 23-20. As Iran won a crucial point for the 24-20 lead, Malaysia were just never-say-die as they utilised their combination plays and effective drops to bag two points in a row. Still, the Malaysian challenge was short-lived as Iran went on to win the thrilling set 25-22.
The fourth set was more thrilling with Malaysia hot on the rivals’ heels. Leading 24-20, Iran allowed the determined rivals only one more point to capture the set 25-21 and match.
“I have never thought before that the match would be that tough. Malaysia played well and they proved that which team are stronger and should qualify for the quarter-finals. We next play Japan. They are a strong team and one of the favourites to win gold medal at this championship. We will try our best,” Iran coach Mitra Shabanian commented after the match.
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