Milan, Italy, September 26, 2010 – Iran, competing in their fourth FIVB Men's World Championship, claimed their first ever preliminary-round victory by coming from behind to beat Japan 3-1 (15-25, 25-17, 26-24, 25-23) in the first of Sunday's two Pool A matches in Milan.
Although Iran had previously recorded four victories in the 1970 edition, they came when the team were playing off for positions 17-24.
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Kunihiro Shimizu of Japan top-scored in the match with 23 points while Mohammad Mohammad Kazem was Iran's best scorer with 17 points. Japan managed to dig deep to claim the opening set and pushed Iran right up to the final whistle of the third set but ultimately had no answer to the Iranian offence.
The win gives Iran a record of one win and one defeat before they face Italy in their final first-round test on Monday. Japan, for their part, have yet to record a victory having earlier lost to Italy on Saturday. The top three teams in the four-team group advance to the second round.
It was Shimizu who scored the first point of the opening set on the second day of Pool A action as Japan took immediate control, forcing Iran to request a first timeout at 4-0 for Japan. A spike from setter Yuta Abe helped Japan maintain their advantage as they led 8-3 at the First Technical Timeout (FTT). Iran's Seyed Mohammad Mousavi Eraghi tried to level matters but Japan kept in front, holding a 16-10 advantage at the Second Technical Timeout (STT). With Iran unable to pick up the pace, Japan closed out the set 25-15.
The second set offered a different story. Tatsuya Fukuzawa's serving fault opened a window of opportunity for Iran and they took advantage, leading 8-3 at the FTT. Japan narrowed the gap to 8-6 with an ace by Yusuke 'Gottsu' Ishijima but Iran held their lead and were 16-11 ahead at the STT. Iran captain Alireza Nadi's deciding blocks then gave his team the set 25-17.
A Gottsu winning block opened the third set, but with Iran leading 8-7 at the FTT it was a cautious beginning from both teams. At 10-10, Gottsu underlined his importance to Japan, putting them 13-10 in front and prompting Iran coach Hossein Maadani to request a timeout. And although Japan stretched their lead to 16-12, Iran found the spark they desperately needed at the STT. They closed the deficit to 17-16, and then found themselves tied at 24-24. Iran was first to set-point and a Kazem block closed the set 26-24.
With the key third set behind them, Iran were on a roll, taking control of the fourth to lead 8-5 at the FTT. Consecutive blocks and spikes from Mousavi stretched their lead to 10-6 and they were 16-13 in front at the STT, despite squandering points with serving faults. Two Mousavi blocks brought more points but with Shimizu piling up the points for Japan, a Yu Koshikawa ace helped tie the scores again at 20-20. But Iran would not be denied and skipper Nadi closed the set and match 25-23.
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