Iran’s head coach Igor Kolakovic praised his players’ character after a 3-0 (25-20, 26-24, 25-23) victory over European giant Russia on Sunday saw Iran make a clean sweep of the Week 3 fixtures at the 2019 FIVB Volleyball Nations League.
The pivotal stage of the game probably came in the second set when Iran, trailing by 19-14, overturned a five-point deficit to win the set.
“That’s the character of my players which makes them fight for every point,” said the Montenegrin.
“Our strategy was to hit powerful serves as we had no other choice with the good serve receivers in the Russian side. [Saeid] Ma’rouf and [Mohammad] Mousavi hit great serves, as well as [Pouria] Fayyazi,” the 54-year-old added.
Ma’rouf had again a magnificent performance with some brilliant setup play, along with Amir Ghafour who chipped in 17 points – including three blocks – to make a decisive contribution to Iran’s victory.
The third successive victory in front of a jam-packed home crowd in Urmia’s Ghadir Arena in West Azarbaijan Province secured Iran’s lead on top of the table with eight wins in nine, followed by Brazil, Italy, Russia, France and USA.
Iran had overcome Canada in straight sets on the first day of the third week before beating Poland in a five-set thriller.
The Asian powerhouse will again enjoy the home support in the next round of fixtures when playing Portugal, Australia and France in Ardabil, northwest Iran, starting June 20.
Top five teams of the table along with host USA will play the VNL Finals in Chicago’s Credit Union 1 Arena on July 10-14.