AVC Boy’s U19 Champ; Iran Secured the World Berth
Japan, Korea, Iran and China became the four teams from Asia to qualify for the Bahrain-hosted World Championship in August after cruising past their respective rivals in the quarter-finals of the SMM 11th Asian Boys’ U19 Championship at the Wunna Theikdi Indoor Stadium on Monday.
Japan outclass Chinese Taipei in straight sets to secure Asia’s first worlds slot
Unbeaten Japan, silver medallists at the previous edition in Sri Lanka in 2014 and fielding a formidable line-up led by left-hander Kento Miyaura and powerful Mahiro Saeki, powered past Chinese Taipei with a sensational straight-set 25-19 25-20 25-14 win, becoming the only team in the tournament not to lose a set to their respective opponents.
Kento Miyaura scored a team-high 23 points including 22 kills from 38 attempts and Mahiro Saeki contributed 11 attack hits, while Huang Shih-Chan led Chinese Taipei with 10 points.
“I’m happy that my team qualified for the World Championship. Chinese Taipei are a good team with good defence and reception. To beat them, we came up with combination attacks and blocks to score points. In the semi-finals, it’s possible that we will play China. They are tall with high blocks. We have to make a good game plan how to cope with their blocks,” Japan’s head coach Hiroshi Honda commented after the match.
Korea overwhelm hosts Myanmar in easy straight sets
Korea tore the Myanmar’s defence into shreds to win a completely one-sided 25-11 25-14 25-12 battle against the host side to book a semi-final berth and become the Asia’s second team to qualify for the World Championship.
Myanmar were competing in the match without two key players – Aung Zaw Htet, who had a left knee injury, and Kyaw Hling Wai, injuring his right ankle, while Korea fielded the similar line-up which overpowered China in five-set thriller led by talented Im Donghyeok.
Im Donghyeok led Korea with 12 points including 9 kills from 11 attempts. Ham Hyeongjin and Lim Sungjjin contributed 5 points apiece from their attack hits. Ya Htike Wai topscored with 7 points for Myanmar.
“Since Myanmar played with their home advantage, they should have played their best, I think. Their fans cheered them all the way. Additionally, although a few key players of Myanmar sustained injuries, the rest of their players remained strong and came up with great attacks. We just did what we had to do. That’s why we won. We might take on Iran in the semi-finals. We beat them before in the preliminary round, but I believe that Iran overcame their nervousness and they must play their best against us on Tuesday. We have to play hard to beat them,” Korea’s team manager Ha Taemin commented.
Iran to renew rivalry with Korea in semi-finals after comfortable 3-0 win over Thailand
Defending and seven-time champions Iran brushed off Thailand in comfortable straight sets 25-16 25-19 25-19 to advance to the semi-finals and book a ticket to contest the 2017 world meet.
Iran, which had already suffered two losses in the top-flight tournament including a straight-set letdown to Korea in their opening match, made use of their greater experience and height advantage to attack devastatingly and block effectively for the straight-set win.
Ali Tabari contributed 19 points for Iran including 17 kills. Morteza Sharifi added with 14 attack hits and 2 ace serves. Mahdi Jelveh Ghaziani led the team in blocking with 5 kill blocks. Chaiwat Thungkham led Thailand with 11 points.
After the match, Iran’s head coach Mohammad Vakili expressed satisfaction over his team’s performance. “It’s good to win this match because it was a very important match to give us life or death. To qualify for the World Championship is our main target and we did it at last. We did not underestimate any team although we learned that we are playing weaker teams like Thailand. To win each match in this level of competition is very important because these generations will have a chance to compete in the future’s Olympics. After we lost to Korea and China, we tried to learn from the mistakes we made. In this match, we tried to reduce our mistakes. As I said, our first target is to qualify for the world meet and we had accomplished it. Our second goal is to defend our title. From Tuesday, we have a plan for the World Championship. The semi-finals and maybe, the final match in this championship, for us will serve as tune-up matches ahead of the World Championship. However, I admit that our next match against Korea will be very hard. I won’t worry about the match, anyway. Korea will.”
China upset Australia in hard-fought three-setter to claim Asia’s final worlds berth
China, fielding a tall and towering line-up led by the two towers – 204cm-Zhang Jigyin and the 203cm-Xiu Chengcheng, overcame a strong challenge from Australia to pull off a pulsating straight-set 25-19 25-22 25-21 victory over the tough rivals in the quarter-finals on Monday.
Xiu Chengcheng scored a match-high 16 points including 14 kills from 23 attempts, while Oliver Clayton topscored with 11 points for Australia.
China’s head coach Wang Haichuan said after the match, “It’s an expected win. We learned before that we will beat Australia in straight sets. However, I admit that they are a strong team with good attack. Their blocks and reception are also good, allowing us some difficulties. We next play Japan in the semi-finals and we just do our best in that match.”
China entered the semi-finals of the championship, where they will next go up against undefeated Japan. However, with the straight-set victory over Australia, China qualified for the 2017 FIVB Boys’ U19 World Championship in Bahrain. Australia were relegated to contest the 5th-8th classification round, where they will first play Chinese Taipei on Tuesday.
In the 9th-10th place playoff, Sri Lanka finished 9th position without sweating as Bangladesh did not show up at the court due to their scheduled return ahead of closing of the tournament on April 5. Bangladesh came in 10th place, with Hong Kong in 11th position.
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