ARDAKAN REIGN SUPREME OVER 2018 ASIAN MEN’S CLUB CHAMPIONSHIP AFTER 3-0 BLITZ OVER ATYRAU
Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar, August 6, 2018 – Khatam Ardakan underlined their supremacy over the 2018 Asian Men’s Club Volleyball Championship following a hard-fought 29-27 25-23 25-22 victory over Atyrau in the pulsating final showdown on Monday at the Wunna Theikdi Indoor Stadium Hall B to retain the title for Iran three times in succession.
Sarmayeh Bank captured the 2016 and 2017 Asian Men’s Club Championship titles in Nay Pyi Taw and Vietnam respectively and Ardakan’s victory on Monday, the Iran’s 11th title in this top-tier championship, was a warning sign to the Asian volleyball that the Iranians are the powerhouses not to be toppled easily in this championship.
Khatam Ardakan, second to Sarmayeh Bank in the season-ending Iranian Volleyball Super League, fielded a formidable lineup including star spker Shahram Mahmoudi, who landed the MVP award with consecutive two-time Asian Men’s Club champions Sarmayeh Bank, while Atyrau were strengthened by three foreign players, Ukrainians Roman Khandrolin and Oleh Shevchenko and Russian Vasily Nosenko.
As Atyrau aimed for a sweet revenge for the 1-3 loss to the same rivals in the pool plays, Ardakan were going all out to capture their historic victory in this championship. Both teams started solidly from the first serve, but the Iranians captured the impressive lead with a 3-point clear at 22-19. The Ardakan’s overwhelming dominance continued through a fusion of skill and brute force of explosive attacks from Mahmoudi and Adel Gholami and powerful jump serves by Hamzeh Zarini which gave them a gritty 24-21 lead. Atyrau came roaring back through the sensational blocking and Aibat Netalin’s exceptional attacks, saving three set points and forced the Iranians to play catch-up. At 27-27, Ardakan continued their superb form to win successive two points for the sensational 29-27 win in the exhausting battle.
Winning the first set helped Ardakan grow in confidence and they were just uncatchable in the second set. The Iranian side mixed the splendid offensive combination of Mahmoudi’s deadly spikes and Zarini’s aggressive jump serves with solid blocks to take the closely-contested set 25-23.
With the winds in their sails, Ardakan remained unstoppable in the third set. Trailing the formidable rivals with three points behind at 5-8, the Iranians turned things around and clawed their way back into the game to catch Atyrau at 16-16 and, despite a last-ditch effort of the Kazakh side, stormed on with their incredible performance against which the rivals proved no match. Ardakan captured the set 25-22, match and the championship.
Shahram Mahmoudi scored a team-high 18 points for Khatam Ardakan including 17 attacks, while Hamzeh Zarini added 12 points. Oleh Shevchenko chipped in 10 points for the losing side.
“I’m very happy that my team won the title for the first time here and all credit went to everyone in my team. This championship is our team’s first experience. Every team came here to fight for the best result in a competitive competition, not for fun. Although we lost only one set throughout the whole tournament, I find it very difficult for my team to play in this championship since all participating teams are strong,” Khatam Ardakan head coach Abbasali Mirhosseini commented after the final match.
As Ardakan stamped their authority over the championship, Atyrau finished second place, their best performance ever. The Kazakh side finished third twice in 2002 and 2004.
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