AVC Boy’s U19 Champ; Title-holder Iran lost the debut match against Korea
Korea, led by powerful attacker Im Donghyeok, who scored a match-high 19 points in the previous match against Bangladesh, pulled off a stunning straight-set 25-19 25-21 25-21 victory over title-holders and hot favourites Iran to make a clean sweep in Pool B at the SMM 11th Asian Boys’ U19 Volleyball Championship at the Wunna Theikdi Indoor Stadium Hall B on Wednesday.
Indomitable Iran, title-holders and seven-time champions, tried hard to recover from their poor start caused by their unforced service mistakes. However, Korea, fielding more individual talents, played exceptionally well in solid defence and spectacular attacks to win the first set 25-19.
Conceding one set, Iran counter-attacked well in the second set, thanks to smashing machine Morteza Sharifi’s lightning-fast spikes to take a commanding 13-8 lead. Their good show did not last long when Korea gradually pulled their game together. Im Donghyeok penetrated the Iranian defence apart with his powerful, sharp spikes. Korea caught up with Iran at 17-17 and stormed on to win the hard-fought set 25-21.
With Im Donghyeok and Lim Sungjin taking a splendid offensive combination, Korea continued their remarkable run in the third set. Iran attempted to cope well with the tough rivals’ tactics, but failed to make their mark. Korea captured the thrilling set 25-21, with Im Donghyeok handing the team the last two points.
Korea completed their pool round-robin preliminaries with two straight wins and are assured of topping Pool B with six points. Iran will play Bangladesh in their last preliminary match on Thursday.
After the match, Korea’s team manager Ha Taemin said, “At first, we thought that Iran will play much better than today. However, this is the Iran’s first match and it’s possible that they played nervously. We played what we have to do and that’s why we won. We gathered for a team training for one month before this tournament. We also played with other Korean teams to gain more experience including Army and University teams. Our initial target is we try to finish top four which will guarantee us to compete in the FIVB Boys’ U19 World Championship. However, after beating Iran, I think my team have good condition and will perform better and better. In my opinion, China are very strong, but not skillful. If we do our best, anything can happen.”
Meanwhile, Iran’s head coach Mohammad Vakili expressed his dissatisfaction over his team’s performance, citing that they made too many mistakes in this tough match against Korea.
“Korea played a good match. We, as defending champions, started with a 3-0 win in the previous edition a few years ago, but now this Iran team lost in straight sets in our first match. It was very disappointing. Iran had no motivation and their mentality condition is not good. My players made too many mistakes. Korea played this match much better than the day before. However, this is just our first loss in the tournament, while Korea, one win over our team cannot guarantee them that they will become champions.”