Unconvincing Sri Lanka defeats Hong Kong

1st Asian Men’s Volleyball Challenge Cup 2018

Sri Lanka v Hong Kong – Group A – 1st Asian Men’s Volleyball Challenge Cup

Sri Lanka defeated Hong Kong in straight sets to kick start their campaign in the 1st Asian Men’s Volleyball Challenge Cup 2018 at the Sugathadasa Stadium but it was far from convincing.

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Playing at home after a very long time the Sri Lankan team was greeted by around 3,000 vociferous home fans. After a close first few points, Sri Lanka responded positively and pulled away from Hong Kong in the latter stages of the 1st set. They went onto win the set 25-15.

Sri Lanka raced to a 5-point lead in the 2nd set but Hong Kong fought back to equalize mid-way through. Sri Lanka had enough in their tank to get some breathing space and win the set 25-20.

Needing to win the 3rd set to stay alive in the match, Hong Kong got off to a great start as Sri Lanka struggled to get into rhythm. However, spurred on by the home fans and the animated Head Coach Dejan Vulicevic they managed to edge out Hong Kong 25-22.

For the winners, Deepthi Romesh scored a match high 23-points from 20 spikes and 3 aces. Janitha Surath scored 14-points from 11 spikes, 1 block and 2 aces. For Hong Kong it was Man Chun Hin who scored the most with 10-points (7 spikes, 2 blocks and 1 ace).

Sri Lanka made a lot of uncharacteristic mistakes and Head Coach Dejan Vulicevic had this to say;

“The only good thing is we won the match but our performance was poor. I can understand they are playing for the first time as hosts and some played with fear and pressure. I believe we will improve in the next matches. To be successful in the tournament we need to perform better.

With this kind of performance, we won’t be able to defeat the serious teams. No time to correct the mistakes we play again tomorrow so the boys need to show what they practice in the match.”

In the other matches, Iraq came back to beat Bangladesh in hard-fought five-set thriller 20-25 25-18 25-17 21-25 15-9, while the United Arab Emirates survived a strong challenge from Mongolia to beat the formidable rivals in dramatic four sets 31-29 25-22 20-25 25-21 in exhausting 115 minutes.

>>Photos: Sri Lanka vs Hong Kong | 1st Asian Men’s Volleyball Challenge Cup 2018<<

Amer Ghulam scored a match-high 27 attack points for the UAE, while Adel Mohammed Alblooshi and Hamdan Ghanem Altahri added 16 and 13 points respectively. Altankhuyag led Mongolia with 16 points including 15 attacks from 31 attempts.

The day’s last encounter between Saudi Arabia and Malaysia saw the former, which finished 10th place at the recent Asian Games in Indonesia and were ranked 50th in the world, brush off the latter in four-setter 25-17 25-15 18-25 25-17.

Ahmed Albakheet scored a team-high 16 points for Saudi Arabia including 12 attacks from 19 attempts, while Ibrahim Majrashi added 10 points including a team-leading 8 blocks. Jian Qiin Sim led Malaysia with 22 points from 21 attacks and one ace.

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