Nagoya, Japan, September 13, 2017 – Milad Ebadipour boosted the confidence of Iran to record a 3-2 (20-25, 17-25, 27-25, 25-21, 15-12) win over USA in the FIVB Volleyball Men’s World Grand Champions Cup at the Nippon Gaishi Hall on Wednesday.
Ebadipour, who was contained by USA in the first two sets, stepped up on offence and finished with 18 points. Amir Ghafour and Mohammadjavad Manavinezhad were among the Iranian players vital in comeback, scored 15 and 11 points, respectively. Matthew Anderson and Taylor Sander made 17 points apiece on a losing effort.
Iran maintained their 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 plays for his hitters. Ebadipour made up for his previous attack mistake to put Iran ahead at 27-26, until Manvinezhad’s strong spike close the set in their favour. Iran had momentum on their side and took advantage of USA’s string of errors to win the last two sets.
Iran captain Mir Saeid Marouflakrani: It was an unbelievable match, so I’m happy we won it. In the first two sets, we didn’t have anything. They killed us with their serve and side-out and they were amazing. 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.
Iran coach Igor Kolakovic: 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.
USA coach John Speraw: 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.
USA captain David Smith: I think we came out well with a continuation from last night. In the third set, Iran made some substitutions and we couldn’t match them tactically and emotionally. All credit to them for staying in the match. It’s something we have to learn to do better.
USA player Matt Anderson: We came out with pretty high energy and executed our game plan. They changed some players, forcing us to adapt; unfortunately, we weren’t able to. At that point, they started to play really aggressively and we didn’t match them. They put pressure on us and we didn’t step up when we needed to.
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