Iran’s campaign at the 2019 FIVB Volleyball Nations League came to an end after a 3-2 defeat against Brazil in Chicago’s Credit Union 1 Arena.
In a must-win game for both sides – after both had been beaten by Poland – in Pool B of the VNL Finals, the South American side took the first two sets (25-20, 25-23) before the Asian powerhouse bounced back (26-24, 25-20) to set a fifth-set decider.
Iran got off to an 8-5 lead before a moment of refereeing controversy caused Igor Kolakovic’s men dearly as Brazilians leveled the game at 8-8 and went on to win the set 15-10.
Five Brazilian players – Ricardo Lucarelli (16), Lucas Saatkamp (14), Flavio Gualberto (12), Wallace De Souza (10) and Alan Souza (10) – scored in double digits, while Milad Ebadipour and Amir Ghafour topped the scoring for Iran with 22 and 19 points, respectively.
Brazil joined the host USA, defending champion Russia and Poland in the semifinals.
Following the heartbreaking defeat against the Olympic champion, Kolakovic praised his team’s performance in the competition, saying, “It was one of the best games I had watched in my career. I’m so happy that we showed everyone our quality.”
“After a tough game against Poland, we didn’t have enough energy to kill the game. I had never seen the Brazilians so good on serve. They were also great defensively.”