Osaka, Japan, September 18, 2015 – Iran bounced back from two sets down to defeat Japan 3-2 (22-25, 23-25, 25-18, 25-21, 15-12)
in an epic encounter to end the second round of the FIVB Volleyball Men’s World Cup Japan 2015 in Osaka on Friday.
An electric atmosphere welcomed both teams, but Iran left the home fans disappointed as their block, and Japanese errors, saw the match sway their way after losing the opening two sets. Yuki Ishikawa and Shahram Mahmoudi were joint top scorers for Iran and Japan respectively with 20 apiece.
It was once again a sold out crowd as proceedings began, but neither team – both with vocal support from the crowd – could find an edge. Two Japanese serving errors meant Iran stayed in touch, but the hosts went ahead by two at the second technical timeout, 16-14. Milad Ebadipour scored an ace to close the gap to 22-21, however Yuki Ishikawa levelled Mojtaba Mirzajanpour with a powerful spike before he dug and quickly followed with a spike to send Japan into a 1-0 lead.
Japan used that momentum to take them into an early lead in the second. Iran sided out and took the lead on 7-6, with Mousavi Seyed launching a huge ace at the Japanese reception. But a block error returned the lead to Japan. Iran suddenly went on the offensive, and looked set to win the frame as it inched towards its conclusion on 22-20. In the end the pressure proved too much and Japan went 2-0 up, an error on serve reception gifting them the set.
Iran, visibly frustrated at throwing away the second set, came out firing on all cylinders in the third, a successful line fault challenge putting them 8-5 ahead at the first technical timeout. A combination of Iranian blocking and Japanese errors saw the hosts begin to steer off track, going 11-5 down. It went from bad to worse as Iran’s block continued to punish Japan as the score moved to 23-15. A late flurry from Japan was quickly extinguished with a spike as Iran pulled one back.
With Iran now finding their rhythm, Kovac Slobodan’s team surged ahead 8-2 at the technical timeout. Attacks from Ishikawa and Shimizu brought Japan to within three at 18-15. Iran somehow held back a determined Japan to bring up set point and a huge spike took the match to a tie-break.
Three serve errors from Japan meant Iran stayed in touch as fifth set roulette began. Those mistakes cost the hosts as Iran kept their blocking game – much improved in the third, fourth and fifth sets – tight and attacking well to go 11-7 clear. The atmosphere reached fever pitch as Japan pulled to within two at 12-10. A serve error from Iran saw them fail on their first match point, but they sided out with a thunderous spike to deny Japan a sixth win.