Lions down Asia World in thrilling 5 sets
Unbeaten Lanka Lions defeated Asia World Club from Myanmar in hard-fought five-set thriller 25-15 21-25 25-20 23-25 15-13 to move into the quarter-finals of the 2018 Asian Men’s Club Volleyball Championship.
Deepthi Romesh scored a match-high 26 points for the Sri Lankans, while Janitha Surath added 16 points, while Aung Thu led Asia World Club from Myanmar with 27 points in losing efforts.
The first set was one-way traffic with Asia World Club blown away by a fierce Lanka Lions’ barrage with Lasindu Methmal Wasanthapriya and Janitha Surath too powerful from spike range. Janitha continued to notch crucial points through his precision-on-the-line spikes and terrific jump serves which always went without replying.
Leading 16-11 for good, the Sri Lankans went on their mighty attacks and scintillating blocks to advance with a 6-point clear at 20-14 and from that point, the formidable visitors allowed the host side only one more point from Wai Ya Htike’s attack to wrap up the one-sided 25-15 win.
Conceding one-set deficit, Asia World Cup, playing in front of their faithful fans who made nerve-racking noise through drum-beating, cymbal-hitting and loud shouting, regained their composure to match the visitors tactically and technically which saw leads change hands for several times in the second set.
Aung Thu and Aung Zaw Htet were instrumental in putting the host team in front 21-24 before a fine block by Wai Ya Htike and Aung Thu ended the Lanka Lions’ challenge 21-25.
In the third set, Lanka Lions made a good start to lead initially 12-9, but Aung Thu and Aung Zaw Htet let loose their thundering attacks from every corner to help Asia World Club narrow the margin 23-17 and 24-19. The Sri Lankans allowed the host side only one more point to take the set 25-20.
Straight off the mark, Aung Thu and Aung Zaw Htet were on target and the rivals struggled through their unforced errors and were being picked apart by the high-flying Aung Thu. Backed by rapturous home crowds, Asia World Club led from the beginning 3-9 and widened the gap 12-16 and again 16-21, much to the delight of the cheering fans.
The Sri Lankans tried to move to second gear, but their attempts were to no avail. The host team captured the hard-fought fourth set 23-25.
In the tie-breaker, Deepthi Romesh scored the team’s first two points through his exceptional spikes for Lanka Lions, but Asia World Club clawed their way back to catch them at 3-3.
From then, both sides traded heavy blows which saw the score level at 11-11. However, Lanka Lions still played cool under the pressure, attacking relentlessly to win the thrilling set 15-13 and match.
“Both Lanka Lions and Asia World Club played one tough match today. I praised the host side for a good game with us. I believe that Asia World Club played one of their best games through No.11 (Aung Thu). I’m surprised seeing his skill, Aung Thu can play professionally in Europe,” Head Coach of Lanka Lions Dejan Vulicevic added after the match.
“We next take on Kazakhstan’s Atyrau, one of the strong teams in this championship. To play them is a gift for us as teams from Iran, Kazakhstan and Japan are very strong. We will do our best. In terms of the today’s result, I’m happy with it since we won although we really did not play well,” he added further and expressed his dissatisfaction over what he said, “a shame” for the referee’s wrong decisions.