Roi Et, Thailand, March 2, 2017 – The top teams at the SMM 2nd Asian U21 Est Cola Beach Volleyball Championships 2017 got off to a smooth start, with in-form Thailand 1’s Marudet Buntem/ Jatoopon Saenyoot crushing Kazakhstan 2’s Alimkhan Kushaliyev/ Andrey Belunin 21-2, 21-3 on Thursday.
Aside from the Thai top seeds, second seeds China 1 (Liu Chuanyong/ Tao ChengAn) and third seeds Australia 1 (Paul Burnett/ Marcus Ferguson) also got the three-day, double-gender competition off to a good start with wins in their opening round-robin pool matches.
With only two teams battling it out in the Pool A preliminary round, Thailand 1 emerged as the Pool A winners ahead of the Kazakhstan 2’s.
China 1’s Liu/ Tao brushed off Hong Kong 2’s Chan Kui Wai/ Chan Lay Heng Dinghy 21-9, 21-10 before beating Thailand 2’s Chamnan Phiset/ Akkarapon Tumdee 21-15, 22-20 to top Pool B. Australia 1’s Burnett/ Ferguson overcame Oman 2’s Hood Al-Jalabooubi/ Majid Al-Shibli 21-17, 21-17 before beating Iran 2’s Ali Shahbazi/ Sina Enayati 21-11, 21-18. With their two victories, the Aussies topped Pool C, as expected.
Kazakhstan 1’s Yegor Dmitriyev/ Yerlan Yelubayev enjoyed mixed fortunes on the opening day. The Kazakh duo proved a class above Sri Lanka 2, pulling off a thrilling 21-19, 21-15 win over Don Isthomu Kankanamge/ Tharindu Medushanka Karunarathna in their opening clash, but they could not maintain their impressive form in the second match against the stronger Iran pairing of Alireza Aghajani-Ghasab/ Javad Firouzpourbabdpei, losing 30-28, 21-15. The Iranian duo, who crushed the Sri Lankans 21-17, 21-10 in their earlier encounter, topped Pool D.
In the women’s action, the top three seeds booked their second-round berths following two wins on Thursday.
Top seeds Sirinuch Kawfong/ Saranya Laesood made a clean sweep in Pool A on the opening day. The Thailand 1 duo breezed past Hong Kong 2’s Tsang Tsz Hung/ Ng Wing Laam 21-13, 21-8 before crushing Sri Lanka 2 (Wattelage Shehani Ashanga/ Warankulasuriya Rams Mudushani Peris) 21-7, 21-9 in 22 minutes.
Second seeds China 1 and third seeds Japan 1 also proved to be teams to be reckoned with in the tough competition. China 1’s Cao Shuting/ Wang Jiaxi struggled to beat Thailand 2’s Kaewta Noramart/ Nasuda Janmong 14-21, 21-16, 15-9 before outclassing Indonesians Maria Dwiningtyas/ Vitria Dwi Rahayu 22-20, 21-13 to eventually top Pool B.
Third seeds Reika Murakami/ Hana Deguchi from Japan, who were last year’s silver medallists, overcame China 2 (Zhang XinChen/ Wang Ying) 19-21, 21-17, 15-9, and then cruised past Sri Lanka 1 (Manis Hewage Hashini Malsha Priyamali/ Asurappulige Tharaki Velum Priyadarshani) 21-6, 21-10. With two straight victories, the Japanese tandem topped Pool C.
The top five teams in each gender will secure berths to compete in the FIVB U21 Beach Volleyball World Championship in Nanjing, China, in July.