0255 GMT October 22, 2020
Pool H1 fixtures of the World League got underway in Katowice, Poland, on Thursday night and Iran went into its opener against USA on the back of three wins out of six previous fixtures in the competition.
With two sets down, Iran was in front by 24-21 in the third set, but still failed to clinch one last set point as USA bounced back to win the decisive third set 30-28.
Youngster Benjamin Patch, 23, was once again the man of the match as he recorded a team-high 21 points. But it was the American performance at the block that made the difference (12) as Iran's Amir Ghafour was the best scorer for his team (12 points). With an all-round performance, Taylor Sander (9 points, 2 blocks, 1 ace) was also instrumental in his team's win.
Iran’s coach, Igor Kolakovic, criticized his team’s poor start to game, saying: “We started this match bad, we didn’t have a good energy at the beginning of the first set. While the second set was full of ups and downs and in the end we didn’t manage to win a set playing this way. The last set was very similar, we also struggled with ups and downs, however, at some point we managed to play our game and what’s even more important, we were able to achieve a good score. We were leading 20-14, but then Americans started to risk a lot with their service and thanks to it they managed to equalize. The set was prolonged, we played point-by-point and it went to their advantage, because we didn’t have enough self-confidence, so we lost a set which we should win.”
Iran’ captain, Mir Saeed Marouf was also disappointed with the way Iran performed in first two sets. “We played just one set. We came back to the game set three, but the moment in the last part was really difficult for us. It’s not about stress before this match, it’s about how we played. If you control the match you can win. About the match with Poland I can speak tomorrow." Marouf said after the game.
Next for Iran is a battle with the host, Poland, in the city of Lodz, later tonight. Iran will face Russia in the last game of its campaign in Group 1 tomorrow.