MAEDEH’S 29 STEER IRAN TO DRAMATIC 3-2 WIN OVER KAZAKHSTAN IN AVC CUP OPENER
Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand, September 16, 2018 – Iran tasted their first win at the 6th AVC Cup for Women after a fantastic come-from-behind 3-2 (23-25 25-17 19-25 25-23 15-6) victory over Kazakhstan in the opening match at the 5,000-seater Chartchai Hall here on Sunday.
Maedeh Borhani Esfahani scored a match-high 29 points for Iran from 21 attacks, 3 blocks and 5 aces, while Mahsa Kadkhoda and Mahsa Saberi added 18 and 16 points respectively. Anastasia Rostovchshikova led Kazakhstan with 18 points.
Iran fielded a fully-fledged team led by a brilliant all-round performance from Maedeh Borhani Esfahani, while Kazakhstan sent in a young, potential squad whose height average is 182cm. Iran made a sluggish start as they came up with poor reception, allowing the Kazakhs attacking opportunities. As Zarina Sitkazinova and Anastassiya Rostovchshkov effectively punctured the rivals’ defence with mighty attacks to steer Kazakhstan to an initial 11-6 lead, Iran gradually pulled their game together and hit back gallantly to reduce the gap 22-23 and a solid double block by Shekoufeh Safari and Mahsa Kadhoda closed out the gap at 23-23. However, Kazakhstan made short work of the rivals to sweep the remaining two points for the hard-fought 25-23 win.
Going down one set, Iran took control of the second set from the outset, jumping to a 20-14 lead, thanks to their improved blocking and aggressive attacks from Maedah and the 187cm Shekoufeh. Kazakhstan’s unforced attacking errors cost them dear as Iran ran away with the gritty 25-17 win.
Levelling 1-1, Kazakhstan turned the table on Iran in the third set as they came out in full force with sharp cross-court spikes and effective blocks to take a commanding lead with an 8-point clear at 17-9. Despite back-to-back spikes from Maedah and Mahsa Saberi, Iran were unable to shake off the rivals. Kazakhstan continued their winning way to bag the set in strong fashion 25-19.
The fourth set was more thrilling. After struggling to get past the Kazakh blocks in the third set, Iran began to find some success early as they captured the pole position 12-8 in the fourth, but shortly after that Kazakhstan put the rivals under constant pressure from the front and back of the court with some scintillating blocks and spectacular digs. However, at 23-23, Iran fought back hard to win the close set 25-23.
The decider turned out to be a one-sided affair as Iran cruised to a comfortable 15-6 win for an eventual 3-2 triumph in the opening match.
“This match is mentally important because we never won anything around Kazakhstan. We learned that this is not the national team of Kazakhstan, but we played with our belief that we can beat them. Our team can improve technically and tactically match by match. In the first set, we played unstably and without confidence. I urged them to play more confidently and our game was improving. We played much better in the following sets, serving better, attacked better. The most important thing in my idea is mental conditions. We have to believe that we can win. In terms of the result in this match, I’m happy with it since my team won. We came here to learn each other,” Iran head coach Javad Mehregan commented after the match.
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