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All-Iranian podium at Bandar Torkaman

The Bandar Torkaman winners Bahman Salemiinjehboroun and Arash Vakili
Bandar Torkaman, Iran, October 5, 2018 – Top-seeded Bahman Salemiinjehboroun and Arash Vakili topped an all-Iranian podium at the men-only Bandar Torkaman one-star stop on the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour. This is the first ever gold medal on the Tour for them. While for Vakili it is also the first medal of any kind, Salemi previously won one silver and one bronze together with Rahman Raoufi, who was on the other side of the net in Friday’s final on the Caspian Sea coast.

Rahman Raoufi and Abolhamed Mirzaali, seeded second at Bandar Torkaman, finished second in the final standings. This is their second silver on the World Tour as a pair, also boasting one bronze finish to their name.

The bronze went to third-seeded Abbas Pourasgari and Aghamohammad Salagh. For either of these experienced players this is the first podium finish at a World Tour event.

The all-Iranian podium at Bandar Torkaman

At a stadium packed with spectators, Salemi and Vakili were well in control of the scoreboard throughout the first set and the first half of the second. Raoufi and Mirzaali did not give up and caught up at 13-13. They even took the lead at 17-16 and extended it to 19-17 before reaching set point at 20-19, but in the overtime a couple of great digs by Vakili, which he followed up with successful spikes, put an end to it all at 2-0 (21-11, 22-20).

In the bronze medal match, Pourasgari and Salagh dominated over fifth-seeded Kazakhstanis Alexey Kuleshov and Artem Petrossyants. Cheered on by the numerous home crowd, the Iranians cruised to a 2-0 (21-16, 21-11) victory.

The all-Iranian semifinal between Pourasgari and Salagh and eventual champions Salemi and Vakili was the most interesting match of the day. The seeding leaders could not hold on to a four-point advantage they had their hands on during the first half of the first set and let the set slip away in the end. The scoreline was much closer throughout the second set, with several switches in the lead, but after 19-19, Salemi and Vakili scored twice in a row to level the match. The hard-fought battle continued through 10-9 in the tie-breaker, but in the money time Salemi and Vakili were more focused on the victory and fixed it at 2-1 (19-21, 21-19, 15-11).

A large pack of Kazakhstani fans supported Kuleshov and Petrossyants in their semifinal and inspired them to an early 4-1 lead against Raoufi and Mirzaali. The experienced Iranians quickly restored the balance and later gained control to break away to a 2-0 (21-15, 21-16) win.

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