Reigning Asian champions Iran pulled off a stunning win against the USA with a dominating performance in just three sets to get right into the chase for a ticket to the Final Four of the 2021 FIVB Men’s Volleyball Nations League in Rimini, Italy on Wednesday.
Iran, the only Asian team to compete in the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro and have already qualified for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, remained in exceptional form to shut out the USA, silver medallists at the 2019 VNL, in hard-fought three-set thriller 25-19, 25-23, 25-23.
Saber Kazemi topscored with 19 points for Iran, while Meisam Salehi added 14. Benjamin Patch led the USA with 14 points, all from his powerful attacks, with Garrett Muagututia keeping good company to add 12 points.
The Wednesday’s straight-set win improved the Iran’s win-loss record at the 2021 VNL to 5-2 with 15 points to trail in the 5th place at the 16-team standing. The USA had 3 wins against 4 losses to bag aggregate 9 points to come in 10th position.
Garett Muagututia of the USA said at the Mixed Zone: “It took us a little bit longer to get in the match. In the second and third sets we had our chances to win, even in the first set we came back, I think – from 19-16, but we just couldn’t close. Iran are a great team, and they played really well. They have an experienced setter and experienced players who know how to play a game. We fought all the time, our team did a great job fighting and not giving up, but unfortunately we didn’t manage to win even a set.”
Iran’s Saeid Marouf said: “We always had tough games against the USA in the past. We knew that they are perfect on serve, we knew that they play very well in defence, but today we perfectly blocked and we put a lot of pressure on their sideout, so they had some problems. This week is very important for us, especially that tomorrow we have a hard game against Serbia.”
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