Nakhon Pathom, Thailand, September 28, 2016 – Iran underlined their supremacy over the “SMM” 5th AVC Cup for Men at the Nakhon Pathom Gymnasium after overpowering arch rivals China with a magnificent comeback 3-1 (23-25 25-23 25-21 25-21) victory in the heart-pounding, hard-fought final showdown on Wednesday.
China were pitted against world No.7 Iran in their third final in the biennial competition on Wednesday. The Chinese went down to hosts Iran in the 2010 final and avenged the loss to the old foes in 2012 in Vietnam to capture their first AVC Cup title, while Iran have already captured two AVC Cup titles. They won the inaugural AVC Cup in 2008 in Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand following a sensational win over Korea in the showdown and repeated the similar feat at home when they beat China in the final clash two yeas later in Urmia.
Both teams were unbeaten en route to the climax on Wednesday. China remained strong in their line-up with the likes of Ji Daoshuai, Li Yuanbo and libero Ke Junhuang, all of them played in this year’s FIVB World League Group 2. Powerful attackers Liu Libin and Jiang Chuan also strengthened the Chinese side.
Iran were formidable on Wednesday with experienced players at the helm including Mohammad Taher Vadi, Rahman Davoodi and Alireza Mobasheri.
Locked in a tight contest from the very beginning of the first set, both teams opened up strongly with spectacular attacks, rock solid defence and terrific jump serves which saw neither team led with more than a two-point margin. Leads changed hands for many times before Jiang Chuan attacked devastatingly to hand China the first-set win 25-23.
Iran improved their fortunes in the second set when they tightened their defence, allowing the Chinese scoring difficulties. However, China came up with combination attacks. With Ji Daoshuai puncturing the Iranian defence with his sharp cross-court attacks and effective blocks from Liu Libin and Jiang Chuan, China advanced 19-16. Hoping for a better form, Iran played with more determination and confidence. Their determined efforts bore fruits as Iran came from behind to snatch the set 25-23.
Iran remained in exceptional form in the third set when they took an early 16-12 lead. As China suffered on defence, the Iranians grabbed the golden opportunity to blunt the rivals’ blocks with their mighty attacks to clinch the set 25-21.
In the fourth set, China still played cool under pressure, but it was the Iranians who came up with an awesome form. Despite putting up a brave fight, China still found the Iranian spikes too difficult to handle. As Iran were leading 23-21, Rahman Davoodi handed the team two crucial points from his deadly attacks to help Iran capture the set 25-21, match and the championship.
Rahman Davoodi scored a match-high 18 points including 15 kills from 34 attempts. Masoud Gholami Renani added with 12 kills and Saman Faezi contributed with 4 kill blocks. Jiang Chuan led China with massive 27 points including 24 kills from 41 attempts and 3 stuff blocks. Liu Libin added with 13 kills. Rao Shuhan contributed with 3 kill blocks.
“It’s very difficult match. We had to try very, very much. Actually, we mainly focused on this match. We lost the first set and in the second set, we trailed China by 4-5 points. However, we believed that we could win. So, we continued the fightback and that’s why we could beat a very strong team from China. I would like to give the credit of this winning to the people of Iran. I would also like to congratulate the Iranian people for their kind support to our team. I thank the staff of the Iran Volleyball Federation, the IVF President as well as our team staff. Everyone played a vital role in our winning. Last but not least, I would like to thank all my players. They played with hearts. They did a good job,” Iran’s head coach Shahnazi Naser commented after the match.