ATYRAU CARVE OUT EPIC 3-2 WIN OVER WAPDA TO SET UP FINAL CLASH WITH ARDAKAN
Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar, August 5, 2018 – Kazakhstan’s Atyrau struggled hard to beat Pakistan’s WAPDA with a fantastic come-from-behind 3-2 (14-25 32-30 25-16 18-25 15-11) victory to set up the Monday’s final showdown with Khatam Ardakan, the team they lost in the pool plays, at the 2018 Asian Men’s Club Volleyball Championship at the Wunna Theikdi Indoor Stadium Hall B.
Aibat Netalin yielded 23 points for Atyrau, all of them from destructive attacks, while Oleh Shevchenko added 15 points. Murad Jehan chipped in 20 points for WAPDA, assisted by Aimal Khan with 18 points.
Against undefeated WAPDA, Atyrau fielded a strong lineup including two Ukrainians, Roman Khandrolin and Oleh Shevchenko, while the rivals were strengthened by scoring machine Aimal Khan.
WAPDA made a strong start in the first set to take an initial 3-0 lead and stretch it to 12-9. From then on, the Pakistani side came up with an incredible performance to gain straight seven points for a 10-point clear at 19-9, thanks mainly to exceptional attacks by Aimal Khan and Murad Jehan and their splendid teamwork. After a commanding 24-13 lead, WAPDA allowed Atyrau only one more point from a thunderous spike from Shevchenko to close out the easy task 25-14 in the set.
The second set turned out to be a very tense battle as both were fighting tooth and nail. WAPDA chased from trailing with four points behind at 2-6 to catch up with the formidable rivals at 7-7 and from then traded sharp blows and leads. Atyrau moved to a vital stage as they led 24-23 and needed only one more point to take the set. However, WAPDA proved that their epic 3-2 comeback win over Japan’s Toray Arrows was no fluke and handed the Kazakh side a scare. Both teams took turns leading until the score was tied at 30-30, but Atyrau held on to win successive two points for the set win 32-30.
Atyrau opened up aggressively to lead with a 4-point clear at 12-8 in the third set and with Aibat Netalin producing thunderous mid-court attacks, the Kazakh side were in complete control. Despite putting up a gallant fight, WAPDA found the opponents too strong offensively, loaded by powerfully-built players with talents and experience. Atyrau seized the comfortable set 25-16.
To revive their fortunes in the fourth set, WAPDA gradually pulled their game together. With an incredible offensive combination of Aimal Khan and Murad Jehan, the Pakistani side jumped to a 14-7 lead and widened the margin to 23-18. Atyrau fought hard for a possible comeback, but the Pakistani side held them off for the 25-18 win.
Atyrau gave it all what they had to win the decider and their determination paid its dividends. The Kazakh side continued their fine form to eventually win the tie-breaker 15-11, match and a final berth.
“It was a very difficult match for us because some of my players got injuries. However, I expected earlier that this match would end in five sets. WAPDA played Toray Arrows in five sets and I think we should face the same situations. It was not an easy task because most of them are Pakistan national team players. We will try to beat Ardakan in the final match as a sweet revenge since we lost to them before in the pool plays. It’s our aim to beat the Iranians for the Asian title,” said Atyrau head coach Sergey Trikoz.
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