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Iran, Thailand, Japan and Chinese Taipei progress to Asian Men's U23 Championship semifinals

 
Ardabil, Iran, May 7, 2017 - Title-holders Iran, Chinese Taipei, Japan and Thailand pulled off straight-set wins over their respective rivals on Sunday to advance to the semifinals of the SMM 2nd Asian Men’s U23 Volleyball Championship at the 6,000-seater Rezazadeh Indoor Stadium.

The tournament nears its climax with Monday’s semifinals, which will help decide which two teams secure berths for the 2017 FIVB Volleyball Men’s U23 World Championship in Cairo, Egypt from August 18 to 26. China were among the casualties on Sunday when they suffered a disappointing loss to Chinese Taipei in the quarterfinals.

To make the competition even more special, the organisers had prepared a 1.70m birthday cake for five players participating in the tournament who were born in May. They were Wee Jaye Teoh (Malaysia), Dilhan Perera Ayesh and Silva Harshaka (Sri Lanka), Bulat Kadryaev (Uzbekistan) and Muhammad Waseem (Pakistan). Over 6,000 Iranian fans inside the competition venue sang a happy birthday song for the five players.

Uzbekistan claim 9th spot at Asian Men’s U23 Championship
Uzbekistan powered past Sri Lanka in straight sets 3-0 (25-23, 25-21, 25-21) to take the 9th place at this championship.

Karimjan Rakhimkulov’s players did what the head coach had promised after the win against Australia. The Uzbek players dominated the whole match, except in some moments in the first set which saw Sri Lanka briefly take the lead.

Rakhimkulov said: “We lost to Sri Lanka 3-2 in this tournament, but we had enough experience to remove our problems. We analyzed them and made up for the loss.”

Japan through to semifinals following straight-set win over Malaysia
Unbeaten Japan brushed off Malaysia in straight sets 3-0 (25-18, 25-23, 25-23) to  become the first team to move up to the semifinals.

Both teams played a quick game, but Japan gained the upper hand in combination and defense, especially with good reception and solid blocks. Malaysia tried their best to find every possible way to attack but the dogged Japanese repeatedly saved the ball to a comfortable place for counter-attacking. The battle came to an expected 3-0 end in favour of Japan.

Issei Otake scored a match-high 18 points from 49 attempts for Japan, while Jian Qin Sim led Malaysia with 13 points.

Thailand defeat Pakistan in straight sets
Thailand clinched a semifinal berth after defeating Pakistan in straight sets 3-0 (25-22, 25-18, 25-17) on Sunday.
 
Despite a sluggish start, Thailand gradually pulled their game together to easily beat their opponents in comfortable straight sets.

Taking the first two sets 25-22 and 25-18, Thailand had a good court rotation in the third set as new faces were dispatched to the court and proved their talent by helping the team win 25-17. Thailand hold a 4-1 win/loss record en route to Monday’s semifinals. They have lost just one match - against Japan - going down 3-2 in their opening match.

“Pakistan were good enough at their attacks and blocks, but fortunately we played better today to win this crucial match,” Thailand’s head coach Monchai Supajirakul commented after the match.

“Against Iran in the semifinals, I admit that it will be a very tough match. The Iranian players are tall and they are playing on home soil. We have to fight against Iran and a large crowd of their passionate fans who can be a big help to them. We will try our best, anyway,” he added.

Iran outclass Kazakhstan to take on Thailand in semifinals
Iran proved a class above Kazakhstan to beat their less experienced rivals in a one-sided affair 3-0 (25-9, 25-17, 25-14) to secure a semifinal berth against Thailand on Monday.

Reigning champions Iran troubled Kazakhstan with devastating triple attacks.
 
The home crowd applauded the Iranian players continuously as their performance lived up to all expectations for a straight-set win.
 
Iran’s head coach Juan Cichello said after the match: “Kazakhstan are a strong team with good attacks and blocks as you have seen before. Our key element for this win was service and attack. Against Thailand, you all want to hear from me that it is easy but in fact, no match in this tournament is easy especially when Thailand have made their way up into the quarterfinals and have advanced to the semifinals now. We will do our best to qualify for the World Championship in Egypt.”

Chinese Taipei cruise past China to set up playoff rematch with Japan  
Chinese Taipei pulled off a stunning straight-set 3-0 (25-19, 29-27, 25-23) victory over China to set up a playoff rematch with unbeaten Japan in the semifinals at the 6,000-seater Rezazadeh Indoor Stadium on Monday.

Fired-up Chinese Taipei fared much better in a tough match against China on Sunday as they cruised their way past their formidable rivals in a closely-contested straight-set battle.
Chinese Taipei, who lost in straight sets to Japan in their playoff match in the round of eight on Friday, fielded a well-established line-up led by hard-hitting Lee Hsing-Kuo in a tough match against China and now look forward to a rematch against Japan in the semifinals on Monday.

The championship continues on Monday in the semifinals which see Iran take on Thailand and Chinese Taipei pitted against Japan, while Kazakhstan play Pakistan and China meet Malaysia in the 5th-8th place playoffs.

Sunday’s Results

9th-10th: Uzbekistan v Sri Lanka 3-0 (25-23, 25-21, 25-21)
Quarterfinals:
Japan b Malaysia 3-0 (25-18, 25-23, 25-23)
Thailand b Pakistan 3-0 (25-22, 25-18, 25-17)
Iran b Kazakhstan 3-0 (25-9, 25-17, 25-14)
Chinese Taipei b China: 3-0 (25-19, 29-27, 25-23)

Match schedule
Monday, May 8, 2017
Semifinals:  

Iran v Thailand
Japan v Chinese Taipei
5th-8th place playoffs
Kazakhstan v Pakistan
Malaysia v China

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