1047 GMT April 21, 2018
There was nothing to fight for on the part of Iran in the final Pool H1 fixture of Group 1 on Sunday night as the defeat on the preceding night against Poland had already put the Asians out of contention with the qualification for the World League Finals in Brazil.
On the other hand, a victory for Russia would have secured the European side's berth in the Finals and the Russian put all their efforts into the game to finish in the top-six of the Group 1 table.
Iran's coach, Igor Kolakovic decided to rest his key players in the starting line-up for this one and gave the opportunity to some of his fresh and young faces to gain experience at the highest level of world's volleyball.
Iran's young talents started the game brightly and could have won the first set as they went in front by a 24-21 score line. However the lack of experience eventually led to Iran's defeat in the first set (26-24).
That was pretty much the same story in next two sets and Iranians did not really have much to offer as the Asian powerhouse was easily beaten in those sets (25-18, 25-18) to lose the game 3-0.
Egor Kliuka was the top scorer for the Russians with 13 points, but it was Russia’s defensive display which shone bright – Ilyas Kurkaev won three blocks from just nine attempts.
Mojtaba Mirzajanpour contributed 12 points for Iran – the only one of Iran's players to score more than eight.
"This match didn’t really mean much to us, as we already knew that we can’t qualify for the final six, while for Russia it was very important. Russia is a big team, which they showed today and in general during this tournament. I had a chance to give other players opportunity to play. They had not spent long time on court before, during the major events. Although, I think that they used this opportunity in good way. They played some good volleyball, but to beat Russia much more is needed. I am happy with how they fought until the middle of the second set." Kolakovic said after the game.
Iran's captain, Saeed Marouf was also delighted with the way Iran's newcomers performed against a powerful Russian team, saying: "It’s good that we played with six other players. They played very good even if they don’t have a lot of experience in the World League. They played with their maximum efforts, but it’s Russia and they were perfect in serve and block during this tournament and it was difficult to play against them."
three wins and six defeats put Iran at the 11th position of the Group 1 table of the World League. France, Brazil, Serbia, Russia, Canada and USA topped the table and will play the 2017 World League Finals in the city of Curitiba in Brazil on July 4-8, 2017.