Tokyo, Japan, June 2, 2016 – Iran prevailed in a 3-2 (26-24, 22-25, 25-19, 17-25, 18-16) encounter with China to establish strong foothold on the spot for the top ranked Asian team at the Men’s World Olympic Qualification Tournament at Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium on Thursday.
Iran’s Shahram Mahmoudi led his team with 25 points, including 24 spikes and an ace. Adel Gholami and Seyed Mohammed Mousavi added 15 and 13 points, respectively. China’s Zhang Chen and Zhong Weijun recorded 20 points each on a losing effort.
China led at the start of the first set but Iranian opposite Mahmoudi got his team’s offence going, as he punctured the Chinese block. Iran, however, held the lead briefly as China came up with powerful combination plays for Zhong Weijun and Dai Qingyao to deadlock at 19-all. At 22-all, Gholami and Farhad Ghaemi scored on an attack and block to give Iran set point. China responded with a spike then the Iranian spike went out of bounds for another tied ballgame. Iran called a timeout and benefitted from it as they scored the next two points to secure the set 26-24. Iran had better breathing space in the second set as they led at the first technical timeout. Zhong sent a rocket of a serve that tied the score at 11-all. Another intense exchange of attacks went on until Iran led by a slim margin. China took the lead in the next technical timeout and jumped to a 19-15 lead. China protected their lead even though Iran tried to fight back. China closed the set 25-22.
Iran went through a tough exchange with China in the third set. They were only able to pull away towards the end of the set as their passing improved, which helped setter Marouf and the attackers to set-up good plays. Ghaemi’s ace and Mirzajanpour’s spike gave Iran the 25-19 win in the third set. In the fourth set, Zhang and Zhong blasted strong spikes down the Iranian side to help the East Asian side extend the match. China forced a tie-breaker at 25-16.
In the fifth set, both sides traded points from start to finish, Iran were forced to play some extra points down the stretch but their last strong serve was enough to put them ahead at 17-16, until the Iranian attack clipped to finish set and match 18-16.