Rio 2016 Paralympics – Match Report – Day 4

MATCH REPORT – Day 4 – Monday, September 12th

Rwanda vs Iran (Women) – POOL B

RWA and IRI both make their Paralympic debut in this competition and face off in their second pool B match.

IRI started off with a bang and were winning 8-3, before RWA started engaging. A few spikes and volleying the ball to gaps at the back of the court won RWA points, however IRI were comfortably in control and won the set 25-10.

Zahra Abdi had a good run of serves to help put IRI 8-3 up again in the 2nd set. Errors from RWA allowed IRI to extend their points to 16-5 and made it difficult for RWA to come back. Alice Musabyemariya (RWA) and Sandrine Nyirambarushimana (RWA) each shut down IRI with excellent blocks. A run of five points, two hitting errors from IRI and a late ace from Carine Kwizera (RWA) brought RWA back into the set, but the IRI lead was too much and in the end RWA succumbed 19-25.

In a repeat pattern of the earlier sets, IRI established an early lead 8-3 and then extended it significantly. A good spike from Sakineh Keshvari and serving from Abdi maintained IRI control. RWA came back late in the set with a number of points and unforced errors from IRI, but not enough to close the lead. IRI took the set 25-18.

A passionate crowd supported both teams and we even spotted a Rwandan flag.

Top scorer for IRI was Eshrat Kordestani on 13 points (7 spikes, 3 blocks, 3 aces). Similarly, Sandrine Nyirambarushimana top scored for RWA with 12 points (9 spikes, 1 block and 2 aces)

Final Score RWA – IRI 3-0 (10-25, 19-25, 18-25)

China vs Ukraine (Men) – POOL B

CHN and UKR had both lost their first matches in Pool B and were each looking to take their first win.

Typical big hits from UKR and a monster block from Rusian Horyakin put UKR in the lead 8-5. However CHN quickly reasserted themselves as lack of enthusiasm and poor communication resulted in UKR falling back to CHN 16-11. Both teams start finding points with tips and UKR regain to draw 21-21. Denys Bytchenko (UKR) went on a scoring spree and it became a very tight set at 24 all. CHN got a massive block out. Maksym Petrenchuk (UKR) spiked and took the next point too. A fantastic rally ends the set for CHN 28-26.

It was a fight for the 2nd set with both teams fully engaged. Bytchenko slammed a ball near the 2m line and ricocheted another off the block. Zengbing Xu (CHN) came back with a power spike and a block out off Bytchenko. This may have got personal. Xu (CHN) scores another point with a roll shot but UKR lead 8-7. It was point for point until an unforced hitting error from UKR gave CHN the lead 16-14. There was a lot of lifting from both teams but the refs had it under control. CHN showed the most determination and closed the set out 25-23.

Ji Li (CHN) was congratulated by his team mates after a superb spike that knocked over the opposing player – CHN led 8-6. More players were knocked over. Next Bytchenko (UKR) took out a CHN player. Quick short sets gave hitters space for big hitting! 16-13 to UKR. CHN showed incredible energy to level it at 23 all, but Bytchenko finished the set off for UKR with a power spike 25-23.

Players went down like skittles as both teams were on spiking form – UKR 8-5. Xu and Zhongmin Zhang each score with powerful spikes, helping CHN to catch up, but then UKR pull away to lead 16-11. More lifting lets CHN down and UKR were a totally different team from the beginning of the match, so energised to win. Horyakin put it away 25-22 for UKR and the crowd loved the comeback.

Dmitri Melnyk (UKR) aces and monster blocks from Bytchenko and Segii Shevchenko really got the crowd on their feet. UKR looked dominant at 8-3. CHN resurged. It was 14-11 and they pulled level at 14 all. Such a tense match and a dramatic ending to the game as UKR took the last two points to win 16-14.

The drama of the match was great entertainment for the crowd again. They sang songs and cheered loudly in support of UKR who made their epic comeback from 2-0 down.

Bytchenko (UKR) attacked a significant 90 times in the match, converting these opportunities to 29 kills. The next top hitter for UKR was Maksym Petrenchuk with 12 kills. CHN’s top scorer was Zhang with 27 points (22 kills, 4 blocks and 1 ace)

Shut Wang hit the fastest serve at 67km/h

Final Score CHN – UKR 2-3 (28-26, 25-23, 23-25, 22-25, 14-16)

China vs USA (Women) – POOL B

The top two females teams in the world squared off in this preliminary match in what might provide a taste of the finals to come.

The USA got off to a cracking start with an ace from Kaleo Kanahele. It was aggressive play with both teams going for block outs. USA led 8-5. CHN drew level as the teams exchanged powerful spikes. Yuhong Sheng (CHN) made her presence known with a number of key points. CHN 16-13. Points were full of action with spectacular saves on both sides, but CHN was on fire and took the set 25-17.

Big swinging from Alexis Schifflett (USA). CHN and USA seemed to try and out power each other as they each took turns swinging. Nicky Nieves (USA) scored an ace and then USA steam ahead to 16-9. CHN couldn’t contain the USA onslaught, a combination of pressure serving, blocking and hits. USA dominated 25-14.

USA maintained their momentum in the 3rd set to lead 8-5 at the fist technical timeout. Sheng (CHN) scored a number of points and Yanan Wang (CHN) a block out as CHN tried to climb back into the set. Heather Erickson (USA) found a gap between the block and took USA to 16-11. China looked flat. Miscommunication lost them another point and USA took advantage to nail the set 25-14.

Set 4 was a must win set for CHN. Lijun Zhang aced. The team followed with a couple of key blocks and then USA hitting errors set China up for a 8-5 lead. As the US were looking a little deflated Katie Holloway (USA) pounded two super spikes and reenergised the team to comeback and lead 16-15. At 24 all it was nail-biting. CHN served an ace. Holloway (USA) blocks. Sheng (CHN) scored and the crowd get some of the best volleyball rallies we have seen. It was 26 all when CHN finally take two hard fought points to win 28-26.

There was not much between these two teams as each demonstrated top volleyball , siding out on each point. CHN got a yellow card for contesting a point as the pressure mounted. USA led 8-6 as teams changed sides. Sheng (CHN) was on spiking fire as CHN led 13-12. Xufei Zhang aced to give CHN two match points. USA win a point and then CHN take the set 15-13.

The crowd witnessed some of the best rallies ever on this highly competitive match and they showed their appreciation.

Top scorer for CHN was Yuhong Sheng with 27 points. Heather Erickson top scored with 22 for the USA. Lora Webster (USA) was top blocker with 5 blocks and Lijun Zhang (CHN) topped the serving ranks with 4 aces.

Final score CHN – USA 3-2 (25-17, 14-25, 14-25, 28-26, 15-13)

Iran vs Bosnia and Herzegovina (Men) – POOL B

The top two ranked male teams in the world took to the court in the biggest match up in pool B. IRI’s starting six included the tallest athlete in the world, Morteza Mehrzadselakjani, at 2.44m. It was anyone’s guess as to who would win.

The teams quickly demonstrated why they are the top two in the world with superb control of the ball, skilful touches and driving spikes when required. Morteza got off to a slow start with a few mis-hits, but then started scoring. He reached far above all blockers and pounded the ball down within the 2m line. IRI raced ahead to take the set 25-17.

BIH started the 2nd set with a series of quick point losses and they looked fairly glum at the first technical timeout, 8-1 down. Highlights of the next few points included a deliberate serve and counter-block combination, a spike that hit the back wall of the court area and defensive dives by both teams to save points. BIH closed the gap slightly to trail 16-12. Mirzet Duran aced and BIH gained momentum to level the score 21 all. IRI recovered to claim the set with a mega spike 25-22.

Libero Ramezan Salehihajikolaei (IRI) was on form picking up all sorts of difficult balls. IRI led 8-5. Duran (BIH) spiked. It was countered by a spike from Morteza and then two more spikes into the 2m line put IRI further into the lead at 16-10. BIH were struggling. A powerful spike from Safet Alibasic (BIH) had little effect to the score line. IRI gained from a couple of BIH faults and an ace and then fed the ball to Morteza for the match point, a super spike! IRI win 25-17.

Iran had passionate support from an Iranian fan base in the crowds and plenty of the other sitting teams had come to see this great contest.

Morteza and Meisam Ali Pour were top spikers for IRI with 10 points each. Safet Alibasic (BIH) spiked 11 points. Ali Pour (IRI) also got the highest number of block in the match at 6. Asim Medic (BIH) managed to achieve the fastest serve at 73 km/h.

Final Score IRI – BIH 3-0 (25-17, 25-22, 25-17)

Day 5 matches – Tuesday, September 13th

10.00 NED v BRA Women
14.00 EGY v USA Men
18.30 UKR v CAN Women
20.30 GER v BRA Men

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