Urmia, Iran, August 24, 2023 – Continental giants China and Qatar marched through to the semi-finals of the 22nd Asian Senior Men’s Volleyball Championship on Thursday in Urmia, Iran.
The Chinese overcame a rough start to oust Korea in four sets, while the Qataris outclassed Chinese Taipei in a three-set shutout to book their tickets to Friday’s last four.
There, China will face a monumental task as they take on reigning and consecutive two-time champions and hosts Iran, which are vying for an historic treble. Qatar, meanwhile, will go against world number five Japan in a meeting between two teams that have yet to concede a set in the competition.
The Iranians and Japanese were idle on Thursday, both awaiting their semis opponents. As per the tournament’s unique format, the pair had direct berths to the final four following their victories in the round of 12 on Wednesday.
Also emerging triumphant on Thursday were Thailand and Indonesia in their seventh-to-12th ranking games; as well as Kazakhstan and Afghanistan in the 13th-to-16th bracket.
China gave up the first set against their Korean counterparts but roared back from there. They were dominant in the fourth-set clincher to secure the emphatic 3-1 (21-25, 25-22, 28-26, 25-18) victory.
China enjoyed a balanced scoring output with four players in double figures. Opposite spiker Zhang Guanhua had 15 points including three blocks to spearhead the Chinese, who are looking to improve on their bronze-medal finish from the previous edition two years ago.
Middle blocker Miao Ruantong and outside hitter Wang Bin added 13 apiece, with Miao posting five blocks, while outside hitter Deng Xinpeng chipped in with 12 points, also with three blocks.
Korea outside hitter Jung Jiseok had 20 points to pace his team in the loss, while opposite Heo Subong contributed 15 markers. The Koreans will next lock horns with Chinese Taipei Friday to play for fifth place overall.
Qatar maintained their winning ways and barged into the last four with their 3-0 (25-16, 25-15, 25-23) demolition of Chinese Taipei. Having finished fifth in the 2021 tournament, the Qataris are now assured of a better final ranking and possibly a medal in Urmia.
Raimi Wadidie was yet again their leading scorer with 17 points, while fellow-outside hitter Youssef Oughlaf added 13. Middle blocker Belal Nabel Abunabot contributed eight points in their win, four of which came on blocks.
Chang Yu-Sheng scored 13 for Chinese Taipei, while…