Iran block their way over Italy for first win in Poland


Ivan Zaytsev emerged as the main scorer, but the Iranian block proved to be stronger in the end

Krakow, Poland, August 31, 2014 - Iran achieved a remarkable opening victory at FIVB Men’s World Championship Pool D in Krakow, after subduing Italy 3-1 (25-16, 23-25, 25-21, 25-22) in front of nearly 7’000 Polish fans.

Key points

It was the third showdown between Italy and Iran at FIVB World Championship

They have faced each other six times in the current season, including World League matches, and they now stand leveled with three victories apiece.

Three-time world champions Italy have grabbed bronze medal in their last three big tournaments - 2012 Olympic Games, 2013 and 2014 World League.

Iran is participating at FIVB World Championship for the 5th time, with a 19th place as their best record, earned twice - 1998 and 2010

Ivan Zaytsev finished as the game’s top scorer with 20 points, but it wasn’t enough to break an extremely solid Iranian block, with a 15-9 advantage in that department and an unbreakable Seyed Mousavi, who blocked 8 times for a total of 16 points. Amir Ghafour also provided some massive scoring from Iran with the same amount of 16.

Ghafour led the way for Iran throughout the entire first set, while Italy struggled to even find some focus. Italian coach Mauro Berruto called for a timeout with his side trailing at 10-5, but that five-point gap remained untouchable until the final track, as Iran doubled Italy through counterattack by 12-6 to progress (19-14). Some Azzurri errors smoothed the way for Iran to a final 25-16 score.

However, Italy found some defensive energy and the game got tighter in the second set. It wasn’t until the 2nd TTO than the Europeans broke free, after some good play from Emanuele Birarelli towards 18-14. Several times, Iran applied some pressure on their rivals, but Zaytsev and Jiri Kovar held the lead to 23-20. A wrong serve by Iran enabled a couple of Italian set balls and Simone Buti blocked to level the game by 25-23.

It looked like Italy could move forward after the third chapter, as the Azzurri kept control until 19-17 with Zaytsev carrying the flag, but a smart spike from captain Marouflakrani built the bases for the Iranian comeback. After a 19-point tie, Mousavi stole the show and nailed three blocking points for his side, including the final 25-21 that meant his 6th successful block that far.

Solid blocking was the key for Iran once again in the fourth set. Once again with Mousavi’s firm hands, the Asian squad recovered from a bad start and seized a safe lead at 16-13. Italy lost their temper again, gave away a handful of points (20-15) and, even though the Azzurri saved some match balls, finally Adel Gholami sealed the game, by 25-22.


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