By A Staff Reporter,Kathmandu, May 24: Nepal cruised into the semifinals of the NSC-CAVA Women's Volleyball Challenge Cup 2023 following a comfortable 3-0 win over Bangladesh at the National Sports Council (NSC) Covered-Hall in Kathmandu on Tuesday.
The defending champions overpowered Bangladesh 25-10, 25-8, and 25-9 for their second victory in a row and collected six points. Nepal had humbled visitors Kyrgyzstan in the opener on Monday. Nepal and India both advanced to the semifinals from Group A.
India defeated Kyrgyzstan 3-0 in straight sets to collect six points and also enter the semifinals. India stunned Kyrgyzstan by scores of 25-17, 25-8, and 25-8 in a one-sided affair.
After suffering two straight defeats, Bangladesh and Kyrgyzstan were eliminated from the group stage. However, they still have one match remaining.
Despite the victory, Captain Aruna Shahi said that Nepal lacked combination in their dominant victory over regional rival Bangladesh.
"I am pleased to advance into the semifinals. We are one step closer to the title. We made a plan to win the pool. We focused on maintaining the combination in the team, which will help us in the last four," Shahi said during the post-match press conference.
Nepal's last group match is against India on Wednesday, which will also decide the Group A winners.
Shahi said Nepal's strength against physically strong India is defense.
Nepal's head coach Jan De Brandt said Bangladesh was an easy task. "We made three changes in the team. They succeeded in keeping Bangladesh under control."
Nepal, today, gave debuts to blocker Kabita Bhatta, setter Pragati Nath, spiker Puja Chaudhary, and Shanti Kala Tamang. Blocker Sangam Mahato and hitter Rima Kunwar got their debuts on Monday against Kyrgyzstan.
Coach Brandt said the match against India will be the acid test for Nepal. "Kyrgyzstan and Bangladesh are weak teams. The last group match against India is important for us. The performance against the southern neighbor will determine Nepal's capability in the tournament." Blaming his players for the loss, Bangladesh team head coach Masudul Haque said the winner between Nepal and India will win the title.
Bangladeshi skipper Sabina Khatun said her team is dominated by new faces. "The lack of exposure cost us the match." Another title contender Kazakhstan registered a second win in a row after a 3-1 win over Sri Lanka.
Kazakhstan recorded a 25-16, 28-26, 25-18, and 29-27 win over Sri Lanka to collect six points and top the Group B table.
On Monday, Kazakhstan beat the Maldives in straight sets. Sri Lanka thrashed Uzbekistan 3-0 in straight sets in its opening match.