2017 FIVB World League – Pool G2
- June 16-18, 2017
- Kushan, China
Australia received automatic qualification as the host of the Group 2 Final Four, but that did not stop the Aussies from giving it their all to make it in the old fashioned way, closing out preliminary play with a four-set win over Turkey.
China stayed perfect at home atop Group G2 with a five-set win over Japan.
Australia 3, Turkey 1 (26-24,20-25, 25-21, 25-19)
In a match decided by just seven points, Australia got the edge in kills (53-45) and blocks (13-8) to make up for 30 miscues in the contest (to just 24 by Turkey).
After the lead changed hands twice in the first half of the stanza, the teams tied at 15 and traded points until a 24-all tie in Set 1. Australia put down two kills to steal away the 26-24 win. Australia led 14-12 in Set 2, but Turkey rallied to go up 23-19. An ace by Emre Batur and kill by Mert Matic leveled the match with a 25-20 Turkish victory. After a tie at 11-all in Set 3, Australia pushed ahead 14-12 and again at 23-21, and clinched the win on two Turkish errors. Up 18-15 in the final set, the Aussies held Turkey at bay for the 25-19 win and the match.
“Our goal when we began the qualification was to advance into the final,” Australia coach Mark Lebedew said. “Although we are hosts, we have achieved our goal and it is a happy end. Both teams did not play with maximum morale and mentality. I am happy that we played hard when we met difficulties in this game.”
Paul Carroll paced Australia with 20 points, including 17 kills and two blocks. Luke Smith added 17 points, including 16 putaways, and Nathan Roberts managed 12 points, with 11 kills in just two sets.
Gokhan Gokgoz led Turkey with 14 points, including 13 kills, while Batur (11) and Matic (10) also chipped in double-digit point tallies. Matic put up three blocks, while Batur added two stuffs and two aces.
“Congratulations to Australia for the victory,” Turkey coach Joshko Milekoski said. “I am still happy to finish the World League although we made a lot of mistakes. Some of our important players are not here, but as I said, our target is the European Championship this year. We have to prepare well for this tournament.”
China 3, Japan 2 (20-25, 28-26, 17-25, 25-22, 17-15)
China came back from down 2-1 in the match and 14-8 in the fifth set to eek out a win over Japan to wrap up Group 2 preliminary action on Sunday.
Japan outscored China 113 to 107, racking up 70 kills, four blocks and eight aces. China earned 36 points on Japanese miscues, five more than they committed, and put up 16 blocks in the victory.
“I am happy about the last part of the game, which China won the game with a 8-1 run,” Chinese coach Raul Lozano said. “After we fall behind at 8-14 in the fifth set, the players on court played with their maximum attention, and I think the Japan’s players didn’t play well at that time. I am happy about that, the players showed what they learned in the daily training.”
China trailed 14-9 in Set 4 and fought off six match-points, with help from three blocks, to earn a match-point try of its own at 15-14. An ace by Chuan Jiang completed the comeback at 17-15.
Jiang led China with 24 points, including 17 kills and six blocks. Daoshuai Ji added 13 points, including three aces, while Longhai Chen chipped in 10 points, with five blocks.
Yuki Ishikawa posted a match-high 26 points, all on kills, while Mashiro Yanagida chipped in 15 points and Haku Ri added 11.
“I am happy to win the game, but it is a little pity that we can’t go to the finals in Australia,” Chinese captain Zhong Weijun said. “We played not well in the second and third set, even not well in the opening of the fifth set. However, I managed to claw back in the final, which was a big encourage for us.”