1053 GMT March 22, 2018
On Tuesday, the Iranian outfit took revenge on the European powerhouse for bitter losses at the 2017 FIVB Volleyball World League, and overcame the Azzurri 3-2 (25-19, 23-25, 28-26, 29-31 and 15-11) at the end of a match played at Nippon Gaishi Hall in the Japanese city of Nagoya.
The Iranians started the match vigorously, and dug and spiked effectively to accumulate points. They went ahead and won the first set 25-19.
The Italian volleyball players, however, reclaimed the lead as the match went into the second set. They mounted some good attacks and ultimately took it 25-23.
Iranians did not capitulate and fought back. They finally closed out the third set at 28-26.
The Italian team sought to reverse the course after the break. The Europeans managed to power through to claim the fourth set by 31 points to 29.
The Persians stood firm against their rivals in the last set and took up the available opportunities to finish the set at 15-11.
“We played against a great opponent, one of the best teams in Europe. At the start of the season, we lost 3-0 to them. Today, we had the opportunity to win 3-1 but missed out on that, but I’m happy with the victory. We arrived here with some hopes and dreams and would like to make some surprises against stronger teams than us in the world. We made the first surprise. We have opportunities to make surprises in the coming days as we play the USA, Brazil, France and Japan,” Iran’s head coach Igor Kolakovic said after the match.
“We’re so happy to start with a victory; it’s very important to us. We played with a lot of pressure and had opportunities to close it out in the fourth set, but couldn’t do it. In the fifth set, we played with fewer mistakes but I can’t say I’m satisfied with the team. We can play better volleyball.
“We had a bad World League, so we had a lot of pressure. I’ve played a long time for the national team and had good days and bad days, but our youth and junior teams have been playing really well in their World Championships. The youth team won the gold medal and we’ve been playing in the World League for the last few years so now we are playing with the strong teams of the world and we learn a lot from them,” Iran’s captain Mir Saeid Marouflakrani commented.
Italy’s coach Gianlorenzo Blengini said, “Obviously I’m very disappointed with the result. We’re very disappointed we couldn’t win in the tie-break. The start of the match wasn’t so good. We were too tense and couldn’t play good volleyball. But after that, we kept our hopes up and were able to take the second and fourth sets. We couldn’t win today but Iran deserved the victory. The fact that Iran did so well is not something new. They’ve been playing at a high level for many years now. Today, they defended more than us and better than us, which made it an even and tough match. They also counter-attacked very well and generally played better than us.”
“We’re very disappointed because we wanted to start in a good way but we were unable to win today. It was a very even match but in the most important parts, especially defense and service. Iran did better than us. I think we could have done something on the tie-break but Iran played very well and I want to congratulate them,” Italian captain Simone Buti said.