Asian men's volley QFs: Iran and China tested, Kazakhs roar

MANILA, Philippines – Action in the 2014 PLDT Home Fibr Asian Men's Club Volleyball Championship entered its critical stages as the quarterfinals took place on Monday, April 14 at the Mall of Asia Arena.

Only one slot is at stake for the World Club Championships this coming May, and teams would love to be the continent's representative to the international meet.

Below is the roundup of the AMCVC quarterfinal stages.

(2C) Kazakhstan sweeps (1A) Iraq

Pool C's second-seeded Kondensat-Kazakhstan towered past Pool A topseed Al Gas-Janoob of Iraq in straight sets, 25-21, 25-16, 25-20 to take a breakthrough semis berth in the afternoon.

TOWERING. The taller Kazakhstan towers over Iraq. Photo Josh Albelda/Rappler

TOWERING. The taller Kazakhstan towers over Iraq.

Photo Josh Albelda/Rappler

The taller crew pounced Iraq with 44 attacks, 8 block points, and 4 service aces to barge into the Final Four. Vitaliy Vorivodin fired 14 points on 12 hits while Anton Kuznetsov added 13 points including half of the Kazakhs' block points.

(1B) Iran fends off (2D) Chinese Taipei

Reigning champion Iran survived a gruelling duel against a hard-fighting Taipei City, Chinese Taipei to prevail in four sets, 24-26, 25-21, 27-25, 25-22.

BLOCKED. Reigning champions Iran blocks Chinese Taipei. Photo by Josh Albelda/Rappler

BLOCKED. Reigning champions Iran blocks Chinese Taipei.

Photo by Josh Albelda/Rappler

The short-handed Matin Varamin crew blew a 14-6 edge in the opening set, but battled neck and neck in the next three to atone for the meltdown. They also breathed fire in the fourth set, firing an 8-0 blast to turn a 17-21 deficit into a resounding comeback.

Head coach Daniele Bagnoli admitted he didn't expect a strong performance from Taipei as the East-Asian squad were able to rattle them mentally.

"We were losing in the fourth set and we also missed one player (Faiazi)," he said, adding that Pourya Fayazi felt some pain in the knee while the match is on. One of their setters, Mir Saeid Marouf were also hospitalized yesterday and did not suit up against Taipei.

Power Pinoys (2A) drop hopes against Qatar (1C)

The home squad yielded against the smashing and rocket-powered spikes of Al Rayyan-Qatar, the runner-up of last year's tournament. Team Philippines were badly overpowered in the attacks department (41 to just 19) and ran out of ways to stop Italian import Savani Christian.

DOMINATED. Qatar's Saeed Ibrahim Mohamed attacks Philippines' Kheeno Franco. Photo by Josh Albelda/Rappler

DOMINATED. Qatar's Saeed Ibrahim Mohamed attacks Philippines' Kheeno Franco.

Photo by Josh Albelda/Rappler

The Power Pinoys tried to steal at least one set, after leading 13-12 in Set 3 behind the attacks of Cedric Legrand and southpaw spiker Jeffrey Malabanan. However, Christian had the last laugh as he took over to carry Qatar to the semis where they will face Kazakhstan.

"We run out of first balls. If you don't receive, you won't be able to execute plays," said Power Pinoys captain Christian Fernandez after the setback.

China (1D) whips Lebanon (2B)

Beijing BAIC Motors-China stayed undefeated as they buckled down to work to edge Al Zahra-Lebanon, 23-25, 25-12, 25-22, 25-16.

Lebanon did have their share of the spotlight after working hard to steal the opening set.

However, reinforcements Wout Wijismans and Frederic Winters took over in the next three sets, nailing one emphatic kill after the other to forge a titanic semifinal battle against defending champions Iran, who will have to deal with the Chinese crew with a depleted roster.

The two combined for 23 points while Liang Chun Long and Wang Chen each chipped in 16 markers.

The losing teams meanwhile shall still slug it out for pride in the 5th-8th placing games, before semifinals action starts Tuesday, April 15.

– Rappler.com