1127 GMT January 17, 2018
Having been contained by USA in the first two sets, Ebadipour stepped up on offence and finished with 18 points, fivb.com reported.
Amir Ghafour and Mohammad-Javad Manavinejad were among the Iranian players who played a vital role in the comeback, scored 15 and 11 points, respectively. Matthew Anderson and Taylor Sander made 17 points apiece on a losing effort.
Iran maintained its clean win-record, while USA dropped to 1-1 in the 2017 edition of the World Grand Champions Cup. Five of Iran’s six wins at the tournament have come in five sets.
USA fielded in a powerful combination of players led by Sander and Anderson who dominated in attacks to overwhelm Iran in the first two sets. USA led in the third set but lost its grip as Iran setter Saied Marouf made brilliant assists for his hitters. Ebadipour made up for his previous attack mistake to put Iran ahead at 27-26, until Manvinejad’s strong spike closed the set in the Asian giant’s favor.
Iran had momentum on its side and took advantage of USA’s string of errors to win the last two sets.
Iran’s captain Marouf praised his teammates’ spirit to bounce back from two sets down, saying, “It was an unbelievable match, so I’m happy we won it. In the first two sets, we had nothing to offer. They were amazing and killed us with their serve and side-out and. After that, we played without fear and to our full potential. Our substitutes did well today and all the players helped us in this victory, so I’m happy. Congratulations to all Iranians, to my team and the staff.”
“It was such a difficult game. There were two different parts of the game. I have to say USA played unbelievable on reception, side-out and service in the first two sets. I talked to my players and told them if they played like that, there wasn’t much we could do, so we had to wait for opportunities. I told them they would give us opportunities for sure because they can’t play at that high level all the time. And we did that.” Iran’s coach Igor Kolakovic said after the game.
USA’s coach John Speraw pointed to the latter stages of the third set as the game changer, saying, “We came out and played some really great volleyball in the first two sets, particularly passing the ball. We just played great. I think we will look back on a period of about two minutes in the third set when we were up and there was a little bit of lack of focus. In that moment, Iran took advantage and made some good plays, particularly (Amir) Ghafour.
“We didn’t play bad volleyball from that point; we just didn’t score any points. Our offence continued to be OK, but not as good as earlier. But Iran played great volleyball from that point on offensively and we struggled to score points.” Speraw added.