0543 GMT August 10, 2022
Paykan and Moqavemat Shahdab Yazd will be the clear favorites to square off in an eagerly-anticipated all-Iranian final at the Asian Men's Club Volleyball Championship on Friday.
Inspired by a group of world-class players, both sides will resume action when the last-eight round of the competition gets underway in Tehran on Wednesday.
Paykan will take on Iraq’s Erbil with the winner facing Nakhon Ratchasima of Thailand or Kazakhstan’s Taraz on Thursday for a place in the final showpiece.
The other Iranian-Iraqi battle of the quarterfinals will see Shahdab, debutant in the tournament, lock horns with South Gas at the Azadi Indoor Hall later in the day.
The two Iranian giants made a clean sweep of victories to top their pools in the eight-team tournament.
Having beaten South Gas in straight sets on the opening day, Paykan overcame Suntory Sunbirds of Japan in four sets before defeating Nakhon Ratchasima with the similar scoreline on Monday.
The Tehran-based club signed French star Earvin N'Gapeth and his Dutch teammate at the Italian club Modena Volley, Nimir Abdel-Aziz, as well as Iranian duo Saeed Ma’rouf and Mohammad Mousavi to boost its bid for a record-extending eighth title.
Players of Moqavemat Shahdab Yazd celebrate during their campaigns at the Asian Men's Club Volleyball Championship in Tehran, capital of Iran.
Shahdab, meanwhile, began its quest for a maiden Asian crown with successive straight-set wins against Erbil and Qatari outfit Al Rayyan, and then beat Taraz in four sets to seal the top spot in Pool B.
The Iranian side also made statement signings prior to the tournament by acquiring Canadian John Gordon Perrin and Czech outside hitter Donovan Dzavoronok.
That was not the end of business for the club as it signed Cuban Robertlandy Simon, widely regarded as the best middle blocker in the world, on the eve of the competition.
Should the two Iranian sides go all the way to the final showdown, fans will be watching a repeat of the Iranian Pro League final in mid-March, when Shahdab claimed back-to-back victories in the best-of-three series to clinch the title.