By A Staff Reporter,Kathmandu, May 27: Nepal’s dreams to make a hat-trick of titles shattered as Kazakhstan knocked the defending champions out semifinals of the NSC-CAVA Women’s Volleyball Challenge Cup 2023 with a 3-2 win at the National Sports Council (NSC) Covered-Hall, Kathmandu on Friday.
Nepal had bagged the titles of the previous two editions of the Challenge Cup. After a brilliant comeback victory over the home team in a nerve-wracking five-setter, Kazakhstan fixed the title clash against South Asian volleyball powerhouse India on Sunday.
India sailed past Uzbekistan 3-0 in a straight set to enter the final. India registered a 25-17, 25-20 and 25-15 victory over Uzbekistan in the first semifinal match held at NSC Covered Hall today.
Visitors Kazakhs outdid the hosts in the set points in the thrilling first set to take it by 30-28. Backed up by the capacity crowd at the NSC Covered Hall, Nepal bounced back in the second set and comfortably took it by 25-16. Nepal continued with its offensive tactics and took a 2-1 lead after clinching the third set 25-15.
Physically and technically sound Kazakhstan made a heroic comeback in the fourth set and levelled the score by stunning the host 25-18 in the fourth set. Nepali players ran out of oil to concede a 7-15 loss in the deciding set over the Central Asian nation.
Kazakhstan has remained unbeaten in the tournament. The tourists booked a spot in the semifinals by winning Pool B. Nepal cruised into the last four as a Pool A runners-up.
Nepal will meet Uzbekistan in the third-place play-off on Sunday.
Nepal made a winning start in the tournament registering a 3-0 straight-set victory over Kyrgyzstan and registered a second victory in a row after thrashing Bangladesh by 3-0. The host suffered a 3-1 defeat at the hands of India in the group-stage match.
Nepal’s Head coach Jan De Brandt said that the turning point of the game was the first set. “Have we been able to win the first set, Nepal has won the semi-finals in a straight set. We played very well in the first set.”
“Kazakhstan made strong blocks. We lost 5-6 points in the receiving. We made too many mistakes and continued them in the fifth set too. We made a good attack but failed in receiving department,” Coach Bandt said.
“We earned only one point from blocking. We made a mistake in the service and defence too. We are under pressure to send new faces in
the big matches.”
Captain Aruna Shahi said that the mistakes in the services and receiving department cost Nepal the match. “I am happy with my teammates for the effort against a physical team.”