Lalitpur, August 19
Nepal faced a straight-set defeat at the hands of Kyrgyzstan in the Group A match of the AVC Asian Senior Men’s Central Zone Volleyball Championship here at the
covered hall today.
Nepal, who had entered the tournament with two wins over Afghanistan in the friendly series, showed their character in the first set but faltered in the next two and went down 25-23, 25-22, 25-22.
Although head coach Hann Abing was satisfied with the overall performance of his boys, he said the match lacked emotion. “The credit goes to Kyrgyzstan as they played good volleyball,” said Abing, who took over the Nepal national team two months ago.
“They are a strong team and the Kyrgyzstan also had height advantage. I am satisfied with the overall performance of the team as we went into the tournament with just two practice matches. We need to play at least 10 matches if we are to win against such opponents,” he said.
In the first set, the two teams were neck-to-neck until 11-all before Kyrgyzstan opened up 15-12 lead. Nepal fought hard to level the scores at 19-all but Kyrgyzstan players sealed the victory. The Nepali players failed to continue the momentum in the second set and they were never in the lead or level on scores. Kyrgyzstan then dominated the third set to seal the victory with ease.
Kyrgyzstan skipper Onolbek Kanybek Uulu led the team from the front and his performance made all the difference.
He added 21 points from spike and the Nepali players were able to block him once during the whole match. On the other side, Nepal seemed relatively weaker in spike and coach Abing kept on substitute the players but no one could do magic for the team. Dhana Bahadur Bhatta was the top scorer for Nepal with 12 points.
Coach Abing, who was impressed with the crowd during Nepal’s friendly matches against Afghanistan last week, said the match lacked emotion, both from the players and fans. “At times, the hall was quiet. I could not see the same amount of encouragement from the crowd that we got in the match against Afghanistan,” he added.
Abing accepted team lacked proper defence during the match but lauded Kyrgyzstan player’s cleverness. “It looked like we were weak in blocking but that’s wrong. It’s the quality of Kyrgyzstan players, especially Uulu, who had a different level of spike than our block,” said the coach. Nepal will now face Maldives on Wednesday.
Except for the first set, Nepali spikers largely failed to attack and collected the points that came because of the mistakes of the opponents. Nepal suffered their fifth straight against Kyrgyzstan in Central Zone after registering win in the first edition of the tournament.
Nepal had won 3-1 in the group stage match of the first edition of the championship before Kyrgyzstan registered four consecutive victories — 3-1 in the semi-finals of the second edition, 3-1 and 3-0 in the group stage and playoff in third edition; and 3-0 in third-place match in the fourth edition. In between, Nepal had earned a walkover win from Kyrgyzstan in the 15th-place match of the Asian Games in Indonesia last year.
Kyrgyzstan assistant coach Sarbaghyhev Kylychbek was happy with the win but cautious about the situation of the three-team pool despite collecting two points from the match. “The scores suggest that the match could have gone anyway. It was our day and we won it,” said Kylychbek.
“Win or loss, no team is in position to relax,” he added.
Kylychbek lauded the organisers, Nepal Volleyball Association for hosting the fantastic tournament. “The organising team deserves all the applause for managing the tournament in such a beautiful manner. And the crowd was fantastic. I was amazed by their patience as they waited for the match and enjoyed it thoroughly,” he added. “Now volleyball is the national game of Nepal and if they continue to play like this, they will definitely go up.”
In Group B matches, Turkmenistan defeated Afghanistan 32-30, 16-25, 27-25, 26- 24, while Uzbekistan registered a 25-16, 25-16, 25-23 victory over Bangladesh. A total of seven teams are taking part in the tournament. Top two sides from both the pools will make it to the semi-finals.