News ID: 322582
Published: 1037 GMT June 27, 2022

Volleyball Nations League: Iran on the rise, in contention for Finals spot

Volleyball Nations League: Iran on the rise, in contention for Finals spot
FIVB

Iran (white) is in action in a straight-set victory over Canada in Week 2 of the Volleyball Nations League in Sofia, Bulgaria, on June 25, 2022.

Sports Desk

Iran will be aspiring to book a surprise spot in the VNL Finals when stepping into the third and final week of the Volleyball Nations League.

Behrouz Ataei’s side will still have to see off four tough contests, starting July 5 in Gdansk, Poland.

Iran will take on Poland – now second in the table – before going head to head with third-placed Italy and Slovenia.

The final day of the preliminary round will see Iran and Serbia square off in what could prove to be a do-or-die battle for a berth in the Finals in the Italian city of Bologna.

Top seven teams of the table plus Italy will head into the quarterfinal stage at the Unipol Arena on July 20-21.

When Iran fell to a three-set defeat against Japan for a disappointing conclusion to Week 1, it already looked like a struggling campaign for Ataei’s young guns.

The setback against the Asian foe came after unconvincing wins over China and Australia, either side of a loss to the Netherlands, leaving Iran in the bottom half of the 16-team table.

Thirteen days on, Iran still left the court empty-handed against home favorite Bulgaria and Brazil in Week 2 but a couple of morale-boosting victories over USA and Canada – both in straight sets – saw the Asian powerhouse move up to eighth, equal on four wins with ninth-placed Serbia.

Ataei will surely count on Amin Esmaeilnejad and Amirhossein Esfandiar delivering their best yet again for the four matches in Gdansk.

Having chipped in a total of 113 attack points – 122 in total – Iran’s top scorer Esmaeilnejad is currently third in the best attackers standing, trailing Dutch opposite spiker Nimir Abdel-Aziz (119) and Argentine Bruno Lima (118).

Esfandiar, meanwhile, is among the top 10 best servers at this year’s competition with nine aces.

France leads the table with seven wins, followed by Poland (7), Italy (6), Japan (6), USA (6), Brazil (5), the Netherlands (5), and Iran.

 

   
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