KAZAKHSTAN UPSET HONG KONG IN STRAIGHT SETS
Nakhon Pathom, Thailand, May 23, 2018 – Kazakhstan overcame a serious threat from Hong Kong to brush off the buoyant rivals in straight sets 25-21 25-22 25-12 in the 12th Asian Women’s U17 Volleyball Championship at the Nakhon Pathom Municipality Gymnasium on Wednesday.
The impressive win has earned Kazakhstan a berth to battle it out with China in the Thursday’s knock-out quarter-finals.
Samai Ibrayeva led Kazakhstan with 15 points including 12 kills from 32 attempts, while Lam Tsz Ching bagged 10 points for Hong Kong.
Kazakhstan, powered by Kristina Strukova and Samai Ibrayeva, started convincingly to lead 6-1, but Hong Kong showed no sign of fear. The cheerful team gathered their courage and played comfortably as if they were practising. Playing without any pressure gave Hong Kong a good run as they clawed their way back to catch up with the Kazakhs at 7-7 and 14-all. Taking a narrow lead 22-19, Kazakhstan came up with deceptive attacks and drops, making the Hong Kong’s girls flat-footed for several times. Kazakhstan took the first set 25-21.
In the second set, Kazakhstan went on attacks to lead 15-10 and stretched it to 18-12. Hong Kong fought back with combination plays and effective mid-court drops to win six successive points and catch the rivals at 19-all. Both sides gave it all-out to win the set, but Kazakhstan played better at the final assault to accomplish that goal. The Kazakhs snatched the close second set 25-22.
The third set turned out to be an easy set as the Kazakhs dominated the whole game to capture the lop-sided affair 25-12 and match.
“Hong Kong is from East Asia, while Kazakhstan is from Central Asia. Players from both zones are playing with different styles. It’s very difficult to learn the Hong Kong’s tactics. My team did not play well in this match. We played the previous match much better than this. We did not start well in each set, but just came back stronger at the end. I told my players to fight on. We next challenge China. I admit that our chance to beat them is zero. I think they are too strong and for us, it’s impossible to beat them. We will try our best,” said Japanese Koichi Shuto, coach of Kazakhstan.
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