Vietnam returns to AVC Challenge Cup finals, dispatches Australia

Vietnam AVC Challenge Cup semifinals vs Australia

Vietnam celebrates after beating Australia to make the AVC Challenge Cup finals.–MARLO CUETO/

MANILA, Philippines — Defending champion Vietnam booked a return trip to the AVC Challenge Cup finals after dominating Australia, 25-21, 25-19, 25-16, in the knockout semifinal on Tuesday at Rizal Memorial Coliseum.

Nguyen Thi Bich Tuyen unleashed 24 points built on 21 attacks and three aces to bring back the Vietnamese to the championship round after winning it all last year in Indonesia.

“The first set of Vietnam had a slow start and took a while to get to the swing of things. And we’re fortunate to get a win in the match,” said Tuyen through interpreter and team manager Le Than Minh Chau.

READ: AVC Cup: Vietnam nears sweep of pool stage, upends Kazakhstan

Tran Tu Linh chipped in 13 points as Vietnam battles the winner of the Philippines-Kazakhstan match on Wednesday at 7 p.m.

“Either team will be a really difficult opposition for Vietnam in the Final,” Tuyen said. “Having the home crowd advantage, the Philippines is a tremendous team and she’s really impressed with their form in this championship and looking forward to seeing them in the semifinals.”

Vietnam during the AVC Challenge Cup against Australia.–MARLO CUETO/

“Kazakhstan is a very tall team, their blocking is very strong. She thinks it will cause a lot of problems for the Philippines in terms of blocking,” she added.

However, the reigning MVP Trần Thị Thanh Thúy is still unlikely to play for Vietnam in the final, according to the team manager.

“The chance is very slim. She’s still recovering from an injury. Sorry to disappoint the Filipino fans here I know everyone loves to see 4T,” Chau said.

READ: AVC Cup: Alas Pilipinas completes Pool A sweep ahead of semis

Caitlin Tipping carried Australia with 20 points as they will face the loser of the Philippines-Kazakhstan semis game also on Wednesday at 4 p.m.

Meanwhile, Iran and India clash for fifth place on Tuesday at 1 p.m. after beating separate foes in the first phase of classifications.

Aytak Samatgharamaleki poured in 26 points as Iran overcame Hong Kong’s gallant stand, 26-24, 26-24, 19-25, 25-19.

“Congratulations to our team and our players and coach. They are great today. Hong Kong is a great team. It’s great for us,” said the Iran skipper. “India is a great team. I hope we can do our plans and at the end of the game, we should win [that] game.”

Reyhane Karimi and Shaghayegh Hassankhani chipped in 14 points each for the Iranians to send Hong Kong to the battle for seventh place despite Yick Wing Sum’s 24-point effort.

Anusree Poyilil scored 21 points for India to beat Indonesia, 25-16, 30-32, 25-20, 27-25, to advance to the battle for fifth place.

“Indonesia played well today. We focused on our defense and reception. They gave so much fight for us,” said setter Jini Kovat Shaji, who orchestrated India’s balanced attack as Soorya Soorya added 18 points.

Junaida Santi led Indonesia with 24 points only to be relegated to the battle for seventh against Hong Kong.