Korea trounces Iran 3-0 as Championship begins

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Korea trounces Iran 3-0 as Championship begins


Korean captain Kim Yeon-koung jumps for the ball as Korea takes on Iran in a group match at the Asian Women’s Volleyball Championship on Sunday at Jamsil Arena in western Seoul. Korea beat Iran 3-0. [YONHAP]

Host Korea enjoyed an easy win over Iran in its opening match at the Asian Women’s Volleyball Championship on Sunday.

Even with some of its best players resting, Korea blanked Iran 3-0 (25-17, 25-9, 25-14) in Pool A action at Jamsil Arena in the nation’s capital.

Korea’s next match will be against Hong Kong at 7 p.m. Monday, back at Jamsil.

There are 13 teams in action, divided into four groups — three groups of three and one group of four — and the top two nations from each group will compete in the next phase here and also advance to the Asian qualifying tournament for the 2020 Olympics in January next year. The winner of that regional qualification will punch its ticket to Tokyo.

Coached by Italian Stefano Lavarini, Korea came in ranked ninth in the world and had little trouble against the 39th-ranked Iran. Captain Kim Yeon-koung, Korea’s best attacker, rested after playing only the first set.

Iran hung tough in the early going, but with a 13-11 lead in the first set, Korea scored three straight points en route to taking the set 25-17.
Up 10-6 in the second set, Korea got six unanswered points even without Kim, as Lee Jae-yeong accounted for three of those half dozen points.

Korea was never challenged in the deciding set, with more star players watching from the bench.

Korea is the first-time host of this biennial event, which began in 1975. It has never won this tournament but has had seven runner-up finishes, most recently in 2015.

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