Tuesday, Apr 08, 2003
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By M.C. Raman
Iran's R. Salehi and V. Sadeghi thwart South Korea's Park Chul-Woo's attempt to tip the ball over in their Group B match of the Asian youth volleyball championship in Visakhapatnam on Monday. Photo: K.R. Deepak
Earlier, Thailand fought well to down Chinese-Taipei at 33-31, 25-20, 15-25, 25-17 in Group A and stay in the race with one victory in two matches. However, Taipei, with two defeats, is on its way out.
A near-full stadium, which expected a lot of fireworks in the final match of the day between Iran and Korea, went home rather disappointed after Korea's surprising collapse.
Normally Korea maintains some standard and fights hard. Most of the players are from high schools, according to information they have given in the team report.
But the team could not make any dent on Iran, which kept a tight leash on the rival right through with strong block and steady attack.
According to the Indian coaches here, Iran has at least four or five junior players who were part of the team that won the last Asian championship and qualified for the World championship.
Setter Behza, an experienced player, was responsible for Iran launching its quick and effective attack. And the spiker who lifted Iran's game to greater height was Soleymani. Behza was giving arc passes neatly and Soleymani, with his superb jump, was hitting perfectly. He hardly missed and was hardly blocked. This happened in the later part of the game.
Then Sadeghiyani. Salehi, Sadeghi and the tall Ranjbar unleashed relentless attack and one could see Iranian numbers 14, 17, 10 and 6 criss-crossing the court and attacking quickly.
What was impressive about the Iranian team was that there was hardly any confusion in first pass and attack. It played as if it had been together for six or seven years. There was so much understanding and smoothness in the game.
Normally, in the rally point system, teams run close and then wait for a couple of blocks after crossing 20. But Iran did not have to wait till that stage as it was always ahead by four or five points by effectively blocking out Korea's two main attackers Sung-Min Moon and left-hander Chul-Woo Park in the early stages.
In the second set it was even worse as the Koreans threw away five or six points through bad serves when they were trailing by four points (12-16). That helped Iran to surge ahead and it took complete control in the third set by taking a six-point lead.
It was a thrashing for the Koreans who looked disjointed through out. There was no change in the method of attack and there was no other spiker to fall back.
Australia seemed not to have got out of the fifth set blues yet as it lost the second five-setter in as many days after having fought well against DPR Korea today.
Whenever the towering Za Christensen was fed, Australia was in a commanding position as he was hitting superbly. His shots were deep and strong. But even he was not effective in the decider.
When he was blocked a couple of times, he became tentative and his shots lacked punch. That gave DPR Korea a chance to fight back as the Australian block was good only in patches.
One player who lifted DPR Korea's game was Pak Yong Nam. He played brilliantly in the later part of the game and No. 2 was seen everywhere on the court.
His mobility and quick attack was quite impressive. Ju Ryong and Ho Kwang Chol gave further push to DPR Korea's attack that was getting away from the Aussie block.
It looked as if the whole Aussie game depended on Christensen as neither Moran nor Grant was effective today.
Having taken a two sets to one lead Australia was well set to finish off the rival. But it allowed Pak Yong run riot, who attacked even the way balls superbly.
Pak unleashed his jump serve brilliantly in the second set to take his team from 21-20 to 24-20. It was a brilliant piece of work.
By the time the fifth set came, Australia looked an exhausted side and was shaky, conceding an early lead 3-7. It then became impossible to catch up with the rival.
Thailand's win over Taipei was not a surprise as the latter was in bad shape again without bite in attack. Wanchai once again spiked superbly for Thailand and his attack had no challenge at the net, barring in the third set in which Taipei showed some understanding in block and attack.
Taipei's Chang and Tai did better in spiking but Thailand bounced back to take the tie.
Tuesday's matches: China v DPR Korea (1 p.m.), India v Taipei (3 p.m.) and South Korea v Australia (5 p.m.)
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