Jul 17, 2014, 12:34 AM
News Code: 81240570
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Russia beats Iran in thrilling World League opener

Tehran, July 16 IRNA – Russia beat Iran 3-2 (18-25, 25-18, 25-21, 35-37, 15-8) in an exciting opening match of the 2014 World League tournament in the Italian city of Florence on Wednesday.

The first set started very evenly, with both sides trading points in front of a large number of excitable Iranian supporters. Iran pulled narrowly ahead to 13-10 after some good blocking and a number of Russian errors. The game remained tight up to 15-13, with some brilliant rallies, but then Iran, brilliantly co-ordinated by setter Saeid Marouf, clinched the set 25-18, with spiking and serving from Amir Ghafour particularly influential.

Ghafour and Marouf continued to play well through set two, but Russia finally seemed to come alive, with Dmitriy Muserskiy serving and spiking strongly. The sides tied on 8-8, but Russia crept into a 17-13 lead, with Muserskiy and Nikolay Pavlov scoring well. With Sergey Savin also weighing in with some crucial points, Russia won the set 25-18 to make it 1-1.

The third set was also evenly balanced, with Artem Volvich of Russia and Adel Gholami of Iran coming into the match with some fine attacking play. They tied on 9-9 and 14-14, but Russia’s quality began to show. Muserskiy, Savin, Volvich and Alexey Spiridonov all spiked aggressively as they took the set 25-21 to go 2-1 up.

Once again, in set four the Iranians proved that they could compete with the World League holders. They kept the score tight, with Russia narrowly leading, but Eraghi Mousavi, Ghafour and Gholami spiked strongly and edged the Iranians 16-15 ahead. The two sides simply could not be separated, as they went blow-for-blow up to 35-35. Ghafour scored an incredible 14 points in the set while Pavlov, Muserskiy and Spiridonov hit heavily for Russia. Iran eventually got two points ahead to win 37-35 and force a fifth set.

Russia seemed stunned and Iran led 5-1 in the deciding fifth set. Both sides were making mistakes though, and Russia restored composure and levelled at 5-5. Iranian mistakes then helped Russia get 10-7 ahead. Spiridonov in particular spiked aggressively as Russia’s class finally started to show. They won the set 15-8.

Ghafour was top scorer with 30 points for Iran while Muserskiy got 20 points for Russia.

Russia faces Brazil in their next match on Thursday at 17:30, while Iran meets the Brazilians on Friday at 17:30, local time, 20:00, Tehran time.