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Japan and Iran progress to Asian Men's U23 Championship final

 
Ardabil, Iran, May 8, 2017 – Iran moved a step closer to retaining their title at the SMM 2nd Asian Men’s U23 Volleyball Championship when they defeated Thailand in straight sets in a semifinal clash at the Rezazadeh Indoor Stadium on Monday.

With a sensational 3-0 (25-22, 25-19, 25-20) victory over the determined Thais, hosts Iran advanced to the final showdown of the top-flight tournament, where they will go up against Japan, who pulled off a scintillating 3-0 (25-21, 25-19, 25-18) win over old foes Chinese Taipei in the other semifinal encounter. Iran and Japan remain unbeaten en route to Tuesday’s final. As the top two teams in the competition, Iran and Japan have also qualified for the 2017 FIVB Volleyball Men’s U23 World Championship in Cairo, Egypt from August 18 to 26.

China survive sturdy challenge from Malaysia for hard-fought 3-1 win
Towering China came from behind to beat Malaysia in dramatic four sets 3-1 (17-25, 25-22, 25-12, 29-27) in the 5th-8th classification round on Monday.

Malaysia performed superbly to win the first set 25-17, but China found their touch to take the remaining three sets. With the win, China will now battle for fifth place, while Malaysia were relegated to the 7th-8th place playoff on Tuesday, the final day of the tournament.
 
China’s head coach Zhang Qiyong said: “Malaysia started better than us, but we regained confidence in the second set to come up with improved tactics and form. We enjoy playing in this atmosphere with a big crowd of spectators. We will do our best in the match on Tuesday.”

Pakistan set up rematch with China in 5th-6th place playoff
Pakistan were forced to five sets before beating Kazakhstan 3-2 (25-20, 17-25, 25-23, 22-25, 16-14) to next set up a rematch with China for fifth position.

Pakistan, who went down 1-3 to China in their playoff match at the round of the last eight teams on May 4, will next go up against China in the 5th-6th place playoff on Tuesday.

“My players were too tired. I tried to push them to continue the fight. Kazakhstan also proved that they were not underdogs. I think they were a close rival going up point by point against us,” Pakistan’s head coach Mahmood Azhar said.
 
Pakistan fought for two hours with Muhammad Waseem at the helm with his exceptional attacks, while Gurin Kirill led Kazakhstan with 16 points.

Japan defeat Chinese Taipei to progress
Japan advanced to the final showdown of the SMM 2nd Asian Men’s U23 Championship with a 3-0 (25-21, 25-19, 25-18) win over old foes Chinese Taipei and qualified for the 2017 FIVB Volleyball Men’s U23 World Championship in Egypt in August.
 
Japan had already beaten Chinese Taipei in straight sets in their playoff match at the round of the last eight teams on May 5.

Japan’s head coach Fumitoshi Tokunaga expressed his satisfaction: “We are really excited with playing in the final against Iran before their passionate crowd. We are preparing these players for the 2020 Olympic Games, so this is a good opportunity to play in front of such a huge crowd.”

Iran upset Thailand to qualify for World Championship
Reigning champions Iran defeated Thailand in straight sets 3-0 (25-22, 25-19, 25-20) to set up a final showdown with Japan and earn a berth for the FIVB Volleyball Men’s U23 World Championship in Egypt.

Iran’s captain Rahman Taghizadeh said: “I am happy that we won. We have three more months in our preparation for the world meet in Cairo, but what we have to do now is to prove our capability in the showdown to defend our title before our home fans.”

Iran’s head coach Juan Cichello said: “It is our great honour to stay among the top 12 teams of the world. Japan are a very good team with quick play and excellent teamwork. We will do our best to beat them.”

On Tuesday, Japan and Iran will play for first place. Chinese Taipei and Thailand will play for third while China and Pakistan will compete in the 5th-6th place playoff, and Malaysia and Kazakhstan will play for the seventh position.

Monday’s results
5th-8th Playoffs

China b Malaysia 3-1 (17-25, 25-22, 25-12, 29-27)
Pakistan b Kazakhstan 3-2 (25-20, 17-25, 25-23, 22-25, 16-14)
Semifinals
Japan b Chinese Taipei 3-0 (25-21, 25-19, 25-18)
Iran b Thailand 3-0 (25-22, 25-19, 25-20)

Match schedule
Tuesday, May 9, 2017
Finals

7th-8th: Malaysia v Kazakhstan
5th-6th: China v Pakistan
Bronze medal match: Thailand v Chinese Taipei
Championship match: Iran v Japan

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