HOSTS SRI LANKA, IRAQ, UAE AND SAUDI ARABIA SEAL FIRST-DAY WINS AT AVC MEN’S CHALLENGE CUP
Colombo, Sri Lanka, September 15, 2018 – Sri Lanka got the 2018 AVC Men’s Challenge Cup off to a brilliant start after pulling off a scintillating 25-15 25-20 25-22 victory over Hong Kong China in the curtain-raisers at the Sugathadasa Indoor Stadium on Saturday.
Terrific Deepthi Romesh R. Hehathipurage chipped in with 23 points for the host side including 20 kills from 28 attempts and 3 aces, while Man Chun Hin was the lone player who scored a double-digit 10 points for Hong Kong China.
After a shaky start, Sri Lanka took control to win the opening set 25-15. In the second set, Sri Lanka opted to change their playing strategy which helped Hong Kong China bounce back. However, Sri Lanka led 16-15 at one stage and went on their attacks to win the set 25-20. In the decider, Sri Lanka faced stiff challenge from Hong Kong China, which initially led 5-3 in the early stages. Leads started to change hands for several times, but the host team held their nerves to win the set 25-22 and match.
Ahead of the Sri Lanka-Hong Kong China match, the Opening Ceremony was held, with His Excellency, President of Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, Maithripala Sirisena presiding. Also in attendance in the ceremony were Honorary Minister of Sports, Faizer Mustafa and President of Sri Lanka Volleyball Federation Honorary Minister, Ranjith Siyambalapitiya.
In the other matches, Iraq came back to beat Bangladesh in hard-fought five-set thriller 20-25 25-18 25-17 21-25 15-9, while the United Arab Emirates survived a strong challenge from Mongolia to beat the formidable rivals in dramatic four sets 31-29 25-22 20-25 25-21 in exhausting 115 minutes.
Amer Ghulam scored a match-high 27 attack points for the UAE, while Adel Mohammed Alblooshi and Hamdan Ghanem Altahri added 16 and 13 points respectively. Altankhuyag led Mongolia with 16 points including 15 attacks from 31 attempts.
The day’s last encounter between Saudi Arabia and Malaysia saw the former, which finished 10th place at the recent Asian Games in Indonesia and were ranked 50th in the world, brush off the latter in four-setter 25-17 25-15 18-25 25-17.
Ahmed Albakheet scored a team-high 16 points for Saudi Arabia including 12 attacks from 19 attempts, while Ibrahim Majrashi added 10 points including a team-leading 8 blocks. Jian Qiin Sim led Malaysia with 22 points from 21 attacks and one ace.
On Sunday, Bangladesh go up against the UAE, while Mongolia take on Iraq, hosts Sri Lanka play Malaysia and Hong Kong China challenge Saudi Arabia. The day’s first match starts at 10.00am.
Eight teams are taking part in the inaugural AVC Men’s Challenge Cup in Colombo, an international volleyball competition in Asia and Oceania contested by the lower-ranked senior men’s national teams.
After three days of the pool round-robin preliminaries, teams will be classified as R1, R2, R3 and R4 in Pool A and R5, R6, R7 and R8 in Pool B up to their performances in the pool plays.
The 2018 AVC Men’s Challenge Cup, an international volleyball competition in Asia and Oceania contested by the lower-ranked senior men’s national teams, is taking place at Sugathadasa Indoor Stadium in Colombo between September 15 and 21.
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