Bangladesh battled back from a set down to beat Kyrgyzstan in 3-2 sets and seal a place in the final of the Bangabandhu Men's Asian Central Zone Volleyball Championship at the Shaheed Suhrawardi Indoor Stadium in Mirpur yesterday.
The men in red and green, who had beaten the same opposition in the final in Dhaka two years ago, will meet another Central Asian nation, Turkmenistan, in the final on Saturday.
Turkmenistan beat Nepal in straight sets (25-14, 25-18, 25-19) in the first semifinal earlier in the day.
The second semifinal, though, proved to be a much closer affair as it swung from one way to the other before the hosts clinched the victory in the fifth and final set.
Ali Pour Aroji's men, who had beaten Nepal and Maldives in the group stages, made a meek start to the semifinal, losing the first set 25-15. Their heads dropped and errors were aplenty as they conceded a 4-0 lead at the start of the second half. However, led by Horosit Biswas, Bangladesh made a rousing comeback, taking the lead 15-14. They did not look back and closed the set 25-20 and the hosts got only stronger in the third set and led midway through before slipping up for a brief period.
However, some excellent blocks and powerful smashes gave the hosts back the initiative as they took a 2-1 set lead with a 25-19 win in the third set.
While momentum should have carried the hosts through to another set win, it was the Central Asian team's time to up their ante. The more physical Kyrgyz team repeated their performance of the first set, winning the fourth set 25-13, thereby taking the match to a deciding fifth set.
Buoyed by some raucous support from spectators, which comprised of school children and volleyball officials , the hosts just about kept their noses in front all through the final set before Horosit's powerful smash decided the outcome in favour of the hosts with a 15-13 win.
It was a riveting encounter and ended in a brilliant outcome for the hosts, who will feel they can do it again against a strong Turkmenistan side in the final.
Coach Aroji admitted that the win was a result of some special effort from his players. "The opposition are a much stronger side, but our players played out of their skins to win the semifinal. The support of the crowd also helped motivate the players," he said. "All the other five teams are strong in this competition, but we have won against three teams and booked our place in the final. We can definitely win again."
"Anything can happen in volleyball. We lost the opening set due to some nervousness and lack of warm-up, but we knew we can beat them as we had beaten them before," Horosit said.