A new-look Iran posted second successive victory at the 2019 FIVB Volleyball World Cup in Japan with a 3-1 beating of Australia.
On Saturday, in a repeat of the Asian Volleyball Championships final in Tehran in mid-September, Iran started on the front foot and took the first set 25-22 before the Aussies bounced back with a 25-18 win in the second.
Having beaten Canada on the preceding day, Igor Kolakovic’s men came out victorious (25-18 and 27-25) in the next two sets to claim the second victory in the competition and move up to the seventh spot in the 12-team table.
Amir Ghafour and Milad Ebadipour topped the scoring for Iran with 18 and 16 points respectively, while Lincoln Alexander Williams chipped in 19pts for the losing side, followed by Jordan Richards, who finished on 15.
“For us this was important because we finished the tough last set with victory, and it was also important for us that some young players took their place on the court. They played very well and I think they will take good experience from this game,” Kolakovic said after the game.
“(During) one period we didn’t control their (Australia’s) really good service, but fortunately they started to make a lot of mistakes with their service and it was easier for us to take side out, and in the end with a good block we controlled their good attack,” added the Montenegrin.
Next for Iran is a much tougher task as the Asian champion faces the tournament favorite Brazil – currently on top of table with a perfect record – on Sunday.
When asked about his view of Sunday’s encounter, Iran’s captain Saied Ma’rouf said, “I think in the last two days we have been in good condition. We started (the tournament) badly, but everybody has been getting better. On the other hand we have to play Brazil, the best team in the world, so we need to go just to enjoy the game and not care about the result.”
Brazil routed Russia in straight sets for its fourth win in four on Saturday.
Additionally, USA – second in the table – and Italy were 3-0 winners over the host and Tunisia respectively, with Poland beating Argentina in four sets.
Canada beat Egypt 3-2 (27-25, 27-25, 16-25, 22-25, 15-9).