Tokyo, Japan, May 31, 2016 – Iran dropped to 2-1 win-loss record after the world No.8 went down in straight sets (20-25, 18-25, 22-25) to France at the Men’s World Olympic Qualification Tournament at Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium on Tuesday.
France took advantage of the absence of Iran’s main hitter Amir Ghafour, as they were able to set up a wall on the other Iranian hitters. Iran looked completely different without their main opposite spiker Ghafour, as Shahram Mahmoudi and Milad Ebadipour were forced to run their offence with minimal support from their team-mates. Mahmoudi, however, topped all scorers with 19 points. Ebadipour chipped in 14 points on a losing effort for Iran. Antonin Rouzier looked sharp on his offence and scored 18 points, while Kevin Tillie had a good stint from the flanks, scored 13 points.
France accomplished to break up the Iranian defence with their balanced distribution of offence. On the other side, only Ebadipour and Mamoudi notched substantial points for Iran to keep up with the French upsurge. All the French starters contributed to their 25-20 win in the first set, as Earvin Ngapeth and Rouzier led the pack with a combined total of nine markers. The two Kevins – Tillie and Le Roux – kept their team upbeat in the second set with spikes from the left flank and middle. Earvin Ngapeth made an excellent save to securely return the ball to the Iranian side, then Nicolas Le Goff finished it off with a solid block on Seyed Mohammed Mousavi to gain a 12-8 edge. France still led with a 22-15 cushion, then five exchanges later, Hamzeh Zarini served to the net that ended the set 25-18 in favour of France.
Iran captain Mir Saeid Marouflakrani engineered creative plays to set-up Mahmoudi and Ebadipour drill through the French defence. France did not give up and Rouzier’s spike clipped the line to tie the score at 16-all. France gained ground and got a 20-19 lead, then moved to set point at 24-21, as Mousavi was called for a lift on his attack. Tillie sealed the set and match victory 25-22 with a strong spike.