Volleyball World Champs: Iran secures spot in Rio
Iran secured a slot in the top eight that will compete in Rio de Janeiro with a 3-1 (25-20, 23-25, 25-23, 25-17) victory over Belgium in the first evening match of the FIVB Volleyball Men’s Junior World Championship at Caio Martins gymnasium.
Iran improved its record to 2-1 for second place in Pool D behind Serbia, while Belgium (1-2) will remain in Niteroi to compete for ninth through 16th place.
Iran led Belgium in attacks 51-43 while Belgium led in blocks, 12-9 and in aces, 3-2. Belgium was hurt by 36 team errors that seemed to occur at the most strategic times while Iran gave up only 27 points on errors.
Belgium’s Sam Deroo led all scorers with 19 points on a match-high 17 attacks, one block and one service ace. Belgium’s Francois Lecat led all players in blocks with five.
Iran’s Amir Ghafour led his team with 17 points on 15 spikes, one block and one ace. Pourya Fayazi added 15 points on 14 attacks and one block.
Belgium opened up an 8-3 lead to open the first set, but Iran came out of the break and scored three straight points on a Belgium serving error, a block and a kill. Iran tied the score at 9-9. With the score still tied at 12-12, Iran scored on a Belgian hitting error and block by Amir Ghafour to take a lead it never gave up. Belgium pulled to within one point at 19-18, but Iran used two spikes in a row to end the challenge.
The teams were tied 5-5 in the second set when a Belgium spike went into the net. Iran’s Ghafour scored with an ace and Saeid Shirood got an attack to put Iran ahead 8-5 at the first TTO. With Iran leading 10-8, Belgium scored on Iran’s service error. It scored another point when Iran could not return the ball and a third on a block by Ben Ponnet and Martjin Colson to take an 11-10 lead. The teams traded points until the score was tied 17-17. Iran’s serve went long and Belgium’s Stijn D’hulst took the serve and Belgium scored four straight points, including an ace, to lead 22-17. Iran tied the score again at 23-23, but a Deroo block and Francois Lecat spike won the set for Belgium.
The fourth set was close throughout and came down to the final points. Tied at 21-21, Belgium served into the net and Iran’s Mojtaba Mirzajanpour followed with a block to put Iran ahead 23-21. Belgium responded with a block from Deroo, but its next serve went out of bounds. Belgium’s Ponnet managed one more serve before Ghafour ended the matter with an attack.
The score was tied 6-6 in the fourth set when Belgium had two hitting errors in a row to give Iran an 8-6 lead at the first TTO. A kill by Iran’s Mirzajanpour gave Iran a three-point advantage. Belgium would never tie the score again, although it came close at 13-12, but Iran scored two straight points to keep the set and match out of reach.