MATCH REPORT – Day 2
China vs Rwanda (Women) – POOL B
China, number 1 ranked in the world, took on Rwanda in their debut at the Paralympics.
CHN completely controlled the match in what will probably be the most dominant game of the tournament. They capitalised on RWA lack of experience and over-powered them with hitting to take the first set 25-3.
RWA, however, immediately had the crowd’s support and earned loud cheers for every point they won. And for the first time, the referees had to contend with booing when points went against RWA.
RWA showed their determination in the 2nd set taking some critical points, much to the crowds delight.
Liliane Mukobwankawe (RWA) scored an ace serve and super spike and Alice Musabyemarya (RWA) blocked a serve to limit the loss to CHN 25-8.
CHN maintained their authority in the 3rd set finding gaps in their opponent’s defence. They gave away a few points on their serve and lost a point to a great tip in the middle of the court from Sandrine Nyirambarushimana (RWA). It was a spirited play from RWA, but they lost the 3rd set 25-6.
Yuhong Sheng (CHN) obtained 15 kills with a 77.8% kill ratio to lead CHN scoring ranks and Lijun Zhang scored 5 aces to add to their convincing victory.
Final score CHN – RWA (25-3, 25-8, 25-6)
USA vs Iran (Women) – POOL B
The Iranian women made their Paralympic debut in this match against world number 2 ranked USA.
Captain Heather Erickson got USA off to a good start with two spikes, but Iran come back with an ace from Eshrat Kordestani and some great defensive work to keep them in the set. The USA demonstrated their front court height advantage and strength with two monster blocks. Not to be outdone, Zeinab Maleki Bouti (IRI) returned the favour, but it was not enough as USA extended the gap in the later stages of the set to win 25-17.
Zahra Abdi opened the 2nd set with a great cross court hit for IRI. The USA came back quickly with blocks and powerful spikes. It was a very competitive set until USA pulled away again just before the second technical timeout to win the set 25-13.
USA took a quick lead in the third set and prevented Iran getting into the game with solid blocking. Katie Holloway (USA) made some great spikes and block outs to ensure USA dominated this set winning 25-9.
Heather Erickson and Katie Holloway were top spikers for the USA with 12 and 11 kills respectively. Best scorer for IRI was Esharat Kordestani with 10 points.
Final score USA – IRI (25-17, 25-13, 25-9)
Iran vs China (Men) – POOL B
World ranked number 1, Iran, take on 7th ranked China in this preliminary round match.
IRI and CHN showed unique control of the ball with lots of technical plays and patience at the beginning of the set as they searched for each other’s weaknesses. There were a couple of fantastic saves from libero Ramezan Salehihajikolaei (IRI) as CHN opened fire with big hits. A monster block from Zengbing Xu (CHN) and a power spike from Zhongmin Zhang (CHN) swung the momentum in CHN’s favour so that they led the 2nd technical timeout 16-15. After a number of substitutions, IRI pulled back ahead and took the 1st set 25-22.
A couple of hitting errors from IRI allowed CHN to compete in the beginning of the 2nd set. Then a spectacular rally ended with IRI taking the point to lead 8-4. IRI brought on Morteza Mehrzadselakjani, the tallest athlete in the world at 2.44m, and the crowd went ecstatic. He scored a couple of points to take IRI to 16-8 and then, an already confident IRI, went on fire. Point after point Morteza Mehrzadselakjani scored, including a final ace for IRI to take the set 25-13.
Despite some good plays, CHN could not stop IRI taking the lead in the 3rd set. Davoud Alipourian (IRI) regularly clipped the net with his serve to try and unsettle China. Albolfazi Oliyaei (IRI) hit some big shots into the 2 metre line and IRI ran away with the set to win 25-14.
CHN played incredibly well, but IRI sent a warning shot to the rest of the tournament teams with this match. They are hunting gold.
Fastest serve was from Sadegh Bigdeli (IRI) at 67km/h. Mingfa Li scored the most blocking points in the match with 4.
Final scores IRI – CHN (25-22, 25-13, 25-14)
Bosnia and Herzegovina vs Ukraine (Men) – POOL B
Defending World and Paralympic champions Bosnia and Herzegovina take on Ukraine in their first pool match.
The 1st set started full of action with each team using power spikes, solid blocks and back court saves to try and out do the other. Captain Sergii Shevchenko (UKR) made a spectacular save after a long rally, but good blocking and hitting from Safet Alibasic helped BIH to a convincing set win 25-12.
UKR came back strong in the 2nd set. BIH and UKR both used fist bumps to defend and pass the ball around. Alibasic (BIH) wowed the crowd with a good spike down the line and Mirzet Duran (BIH) cross court. Denys Bytchenko (UKR) started swinging well and it was close at 16-15 to BIH, but BIH finally took the set 25-22.
Bytchenko (UKR) got into a rhythm with point scoring but a few mistakes from the team gave the advantage back to BIH, 8-7 at 1st technical timeout. Further point scoring from Bytchenko kept UKR in the set until the last few points, but Captain Sabahudin Delalic (BIH) scored with an ace to seal the match for BIH.
Mirzet Duran (BIH) scored the highest number of spikes with 13 in contrast to Denys Bytchenko (UKR) with 12. Duran (BIH) also scored the highest number of aces with 3.
Final score BIH – UKR (25-12, 25-22, 25-20)
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