ADAKAN STUN TORAY TO TOP POOL A, HEADING TO QUARTER-FINALS
Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar, July 31, 2018 – Iran’s Khatam Ardakan continued their invincible run at the 2018 Asian Men’s Club Volleyball Championship after powering past fighting Toray Arrows in hard-fought three-set thriller 25-22 25-22 34-32 at the Wunna Theikdi Indoor Stadium Hall B on Tuesday.
Shahram Mahmoudi chipped in 17 points, while Hossein Amiri and Hamzeh Zarini added 12 and 11 points respectively. Kazuki Ochiai was the lone player who scored a double-digit match-high 20 points for Toray Arrows.
Fresh from a brilliant 3-1 comeback win over Kazakhstan’s Atyrau the previous day, Khatam Ardakan came into the match full of confidence and they got the job done whilst showing flashes of the brilliance that took them past rivals. The Iranians beat the closest rivals Toray Arrows in closely-contested three-setter.
The imposing figure of Shahram Mahmoudi, who played for Sarmayeh Bank and helped the Iranian side capture the Asian Men’s Club title two times in succession (2016 and 2017) and also took the Most Valuable Player Award on both occasions, boosted the hopes of Khatam Ardakan.
The Iranian side surged into a two-set advantage 25-22 25-22, using big spikes from Mahmoudi and Hamzeh Zarini and scintillating blocks from Adel Gholami and Hossein Amiri.
The third set saw both sides trade blows to level 18-18 before Khatam Ardakan pulled clear to lead commandingly 22-19. Yuma Yoneyama’s terrific jump serves handed Toray Arrows two points in a row to narrow the margin 21-22, forcing the Iranians to call a timeout to improve their reception. With both sides forced to play catch-up at the near end of the game, the leads changed hands for several times in crucial moments. Khatam Ardakan proved steadier with more consistency to win the hard-fought set 34-32 and match.
With straight two wins, Khatam Ardakan are assured of capturing the Pool A top spot as Qatar, the fourth team in Pool A, had already pulled out of the competition earlier. The Iranian side, as R1 now, will have three rest days and secure the berth in the quarter-finals. They will resume their campaign again in a quarter-final match on August 4.
“It’s our good chance to play a strong team like Japan. In every match in every tournament we played them, Japan always proved to be strong defensively and it was a very difficult match for us. Playing Toray Arrows from Japan and Kazakhstan’s Atyrau is totally different as the former are strong in techniques and defence and the latter with high blocks. As we are in strong pool for the first time since AVC applied a new format, I can’t say it now how our target will look like. The other teams from different pools are also strong and challenging,” Khatam Ardakan head coach Abbsali Mirhosseini commented after the match.
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