FIVB Men's World Championship Japan 2006
Venezuela continue winning ways with victory over Iran
November 18, Nagano: Venezuela's winning start to the competition continued as they brushed off an Iran fightback in the Nagano White Ring.
Mansouri Mohammad & Mahmoudi Behnam (IRI) block against Gomez Ernard (VEN) receives
The South Americans, who had clipped the USA's wings on the opening day, took the first set before Iran brought themselves level at 1-1.
But Venezuela persevered to close out the match 25-20, 23-25, 25-17, 25-20, and maintain their perfect start to the tournament.
Iran had not managed to claim a set in their opening defeat to the Czech Republic, but had come mighty close on more than one occasion.
Venezuela coach Eliseo Ramos, meanwhile, had said after the win over the USA that his side were growing in confidence.
But it was Iran who made the brighter start.
Behnam Mahmoudi snapped into life while his South American opponents were still trying to find their rhythm, but blocks by Ivan Marquez soon brought Venezuela up to speed.
Setter Juan Carlos Blanco followed Marquez's lead, hooking the ball over his head with his back to the net to catch the Iranian defence off-guard.
Captain Thomas Ereu also got into the act as he fired a spike on the left to give Venezuela a 13-9 lead, prompting Iran coach Milorad Kijac to call a time-out as the South Americans began to pull away.
Unforced errors and a good block from Alireza Nadi gave the Iranians hope however, but another Ernardo Gomez missile from the right flank reminded the Asians what they were up against.
Fredy Cedeno was incensed that the referee denied him another point soon after, but the number 18 recovered his composure to claim the next one and take his team closer.
Gomez served for the set at 24-19, and while Iran captain Peyman Akbari bought his side some time, Gomez was more insistent at the next time of asking as he took the set for Venezuela.
Behnam made sure Iran were back in the hunt early in the second set, helping his side to an 8-6 lead at the first TTO.
Mohammed Mansouri notched another after the restart, and Venezuela coach Ramos called a time-out as Mansouri's teammates added two more.
But the South Americans steadily began chipping away at Iran's lead, with Gomez tireless in his attacking play.
Captain Thomas Ereu contributed a delicate tip-over at the net, although crucial points by Mohammed Torkashvand and Mansouri kept Iran in front.
The Asians were looking to close the set out at 21-17, but Gomez and Marquez were not prepared to sit back and hand it to them on a plate.
Venezuela were now breathing down Iran's necks.
But a missed block gave the Iranians set point, and when ball into Venezuelan territory caused confusion in the defensive ranks, Iran levelled the match at 1-1.
Venezuela narrowly had the better of the opening exchanges of the third set, heading into the first TTO with an 8-6 lead.
Gomez continued his unrelenting form, as Akbari and Torkashvand replied for Iran.
The teams proceeded to match each other point for point, until Marquez launched another attack at the net to give Venezuela a glimpse of the lead.
A mix-up in the Iranian offence immediately after, where a Nadi dummy was not read by his teammates, spurred coach Kijac into calling a time-out.
But the South Americans had hit their stride, and returned to establish a clear advantage at 17-13.
They didn't look back, as Iran lost their grip and Venezuela surged towards set point.
It arrived when Marquez rose again at the net, and ended when substitute Carlos Tejeda drove in a cross-court smash.
Gomez blotted his copybook at the start of the fourth set with a lapse in concentration that gave Iran an early lead.
With the ball spinning high towards the Venezuelan half, Gomez allowed it to drop beside him, confident it would land out of play.
But the cheers from the Iranian players soon made him aware of his error as the Asians gratefully accepted a 4-3 advantage.
Gomez soon recovered from his blushes to power Venezuela into the lead, but a Mansouri ace brought Iran back into it at 13-13.
Substitute Seyed Bazargard's appearance had given the Iranians a new weapon on the flanks, although Venezuela were doing just enough to nose into the second TTO ahead at 16-15.
Big blocks on either side kept things close, but captain Ereu was pulling his side towards the finish line.
Gomez added an ace to bring up match point, and produced another to clinch the match in style.