IRAN ON CLOUD NINE AFTER DRAMATIC 3-2 WIN AGAINST PHILIPPINES
Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand, September 17, 2018 – Iran were on cloud nine on Monday as Mahsa Kadkhoda scored a match-high 30 points to lead her team to a dramatic 3-2 win in exhausting 122 minutes at the 6th AVC Cup for Women at the Chartchai Hall.
Mahsa Kadkhoda contributed 30 points for Iran including 19 kills from 54 attempts and a team-leading 5 blocks and another team-leading 6 aces. Alyssa Valdez led the Philippines with 24 points including 22 attacks.
Fresh from beating Kazakhstan 3-2 in their opening match on Sunday, Iran started confidently in their match against the Philippines, powered by hard-attacking Alyssa Valdez. Both sides came up with almost the same standard, but Iran, with Maedeh Borhani Esfahani at the helm, took a narrow 19-18 lead. Mahsa Kadkhoda and Maedeh were immense for the team at the net, repelling wave after wave of their attacks to hand Iran a crucial 24-23 lead, needing only one more point to take the set. However, the Philippines taught them victory never comes easily. They attacked, boosted and served well, making use of their good teamwork and attacks from Valdez. The Filipinos won the close set 29-27.
Iran made amends in the second set as they came out in full strength, making the set a one-sided battle. Trailing with 10 points behind at 12-22, the Philippines tightened their defence, allowing the Iranians tough times scoring. Valdez still played a vital role in leading the Philippines’ challenge, but Iran managed to keep them at arm’s length for the comfortable 25-16 win in the set.
The third set was initially dominated by the Philippines with a 4-point clear at 6-2. As the Iranian game was riddled with unforced errors, the Filipinas, cheered on by their fans inside the venue, played with confidence and jumped to a commanding 18-9 lead. Playing without key player Maedeh in this set, Iran started to claw back into the game. However, the Philippines showed flashes of brilliance that took them past the formidable rivals for the set win 25-17.
Iran came back to life in the fourth set, which they led from start to finish, thanks largely to their consistency and excellent combination plays. Iran clinched the completely one-sided set 25-12, forcing the Filipinas to contest the do-or-die tie-breaker.
In the decider, Iran started well to surge into a three-point advantage at 8-5, but the Philippines were just never-say-die. They fought back with all they had and great spirit. Their determination was handsomely rewarded when they met the rivals 12-12. From that point, both sides gave it all-out, but Iran proved steadier to clinch the deciding set 15-13
“It was a very tough match against the Philippines. We learned that they are strong defensively. They will fight until they have the least chance to continue. We tried hard, but at the same time just wanted to make it a relaxed match. I dare say that to beat the Philippines is very difficult. I told my girls if they want to continue, we have to beat them. During the match, I changed many players to use more attacks. I’m very happy with my players for the win as they trained hard. I think my players are strong mentally and can stand playing a tough match like this,” said Iran head coach Javad Mehregan.
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