Asian road to Boys' U19 Worlds underway


Chen Boliang sets to Qi Qi as China open Asian Boys' 19 Championship with win over Chinese Taipei.

Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar, March 28, 2017 - China, Korea, Thailand and hosts Myanmar registered their first win at the SMM 11th Asian Boys’ U19 Volleyball Championship at the Wunna Theikdi Indoor Stadium on Tuesday, with the strongly-built Chinese recovering the first-set loss to beat Chinese Taipei in hard-fought four sets.

The nine-day tournament has served as the Asian qualification round, where the top four out of 11 participating teams will make the cut for the FIVB Boys’ U19 World Championship in Bahrain from August 18 to 27.

Title-holders Iran are chasing their dreams of stretching it to seven titles in a row and eight overall in the Asian meet.

China survive study challenge from Chinese Taipei for hard-fought win
Tall and towering China overcame a daunting task in their opening match against Chinese Taipei to produce a fantastic comeback 3-1 (28-30 25-23 25-19 25-18) victory over the fighting rivals on Tuesday.

China, pursing their maiden victory in the top-flight tournament, fielded a hefty line-up which was led by the 204cm-Zhang Jingyin and powerful Tian Cong in the tough match against Chinese Taipei.

Chinese Taipei stole the limelight by stunning the Chinese, whose height average is 198cm, in a hotly-contested first set 30-28. China, which finished third at the previous edition in Sri Lanka in 2014, put their acts together and counter-attacked well to win the next two sets 25-23 25-19.

The fourth set was more thrilling when both sides traded points through their exceptional tactics and combination attacks. Leading narrowly 17-16, the fired-up China went on onslaughts to win the set 25-18 and match.

Zhang Jingyin scored a team-high 18 points for China including 14 kills. Xiu Chengcheng added 13 kills through his ace spikes and Qi Qi handed the team 5 block points and 2 ace serves. Huang Shih-Chan led Chinese Taipei with 19 points including 17 kills.

“We started nervously in the first set, while Chinese Taipei performed well offensively. Their attacks and blocks proved too difficult for us to handle and that’s why we lost in the first set. However, my players boosted their confidence and improved their game and that’s why we won the next three sets. We trained only 15 days in preparation for this championship, but we wish to advance to the final round,” China’s head coach Wang Haichuan said after the match.

Thailand thrash Sri Lanka in comfortable straight sets
In-form Thailand got off to a convincing start after thrashing Sri Lanka in straight sets in their first match on Tuesday. After comfortable winning the first two sets 25-10 25-15, Thailand lost their concentration in the third set, leaving the Sri Lankans to claw their way back to close the margin at 23-23. Nonetheless, Thailand held their nerves and stormed back to win the remaining two points for the eventual 25-23 win in the set and match.

Khomsan Phoonsang scored a team-high 12 points for Thailand including 7 kills and 3 stuff blocks. Chaiwat Thungkham added 8 points through his attacks and Kajonsak Maokhuntod handed the team 4 block points. Mahela Bandara Jayalath led Sri Lanka with 15 points including 13 ace spikes.

“We performed well in the first two sets. Everything went smoothly as expected. Our defence, attack and blocks lived up to all expectations. We just lost our concentration in the middle of the third set, coming up with unforced mistakes. Fortunately, we regained our form at the near end of the set to win the match. I myself set the team’s target of making it to the top four in the championship. If we can maintain our form to beat Japan coming Thursday, I think our chance of advancing to the top four is possible,” Thailand’s head coach Somboon Nakpung commented.

“My players have been training quite well for two months, especially on attacks. Only their concentration and willing to win will be the two factors to decide their fate in this championship. Our strong point is the combination attacks,” he added.

Myanmar delight home fans with win over Hong Kong
Hosts Myanmar pulled off a convincing 25-15 25-17 25-15 victory over Hong Kong in the curtain-raisers of the SMM 11th Asian Boys’ U19 Volleyball Championship at the Wunna Theikdi Indoor Stadium Hall B on Tuesday.

Earlier, Mr Htun Myint Naing, president of the Myanmar Volleyball Federation, presided over the opening ceremony ahead of the competition.

Myanmar, whose age average is 14.4 years, were led by powerful attacker Aung Zaw Htet and Ya Htike Wai, who stands 192cm tall, the team’s tallest player. Smaller in size, Hong Kong tried hard to recover from the first-set down 15-25, but still found Myanmar an impossible nut to crack to go down 17-25 and 15-25 in the second and third sets.

Aung Zaw Heit topscored with 18 points for Myanmar including 15 kills and one ace serve, while Le Yin Chun led Hong Kong with 8 points.

“It was not a good match although we won. Hong Kong are very young and still inexperienced. We have been training for two months, but took it seriously just one week because all of my players are students and had to take their exams before starting an intensive training for the tournament,” Myanmar’s head coach Kyaw Swar Win commented after the match.

“We next take on Australia. We don’t have much information about them, but we have to try our best. We don’t want to set any target in this championship, but just want to give our best one at a time,” he said.

Formidable Korea crush Bangladesh in lop-sided battle
Korea proved too much for underdogs Bangladesh to brush aside the smaller rivals in a completely one-sided encounter 25-12 25-13 25-11 in 59 minutes to claim their first win at the Wunna Theikdi Indoor Stadium Hall C on Tuesday.

Im Donghyeok became a scoring machine for Korea as he scored a match-high 19 points consisting of 17 kills and 2 ace serves. Jeong Taejun added four points through his effective blocks. Islam Mohammad led Bangladesh with 7 points.

On Wednesday, Australia take on Hong Kong, Korea go up against Iran and Japan play Sri Lanka at Wunna Theikdi Indoor Stadium Hall B.

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