Doha, Qatar, December 21, 2010 – Paykan completed a wonderful campaign at the 2010 FIVB Men's Club World Championship by claiming the bronze medal that they had targeted since arriving in Qatar as they bounced back from two sets down to beat Argentina's Drean Bolivar 3-2 (23-25, 23-25, 25-23, 25-20, 15-13).
With 25 points, Bolivar's Federico Pereyra was the game's top scorer while Seyed Mehdi Bazargarde excelled for Paykan with 18, but it was the Iranians celebrating at the end following a victory that confirms the tremendous progress registered by their country's Volleyball in the past few years.
This was a meeting of the two revelations of this tournament. The Bolivar team coached by Javier Weber – a 1988 Olympic bronze medallist – had knocked out Russia's Dynamo Moscow in the preliminary round while Peyman Akbari's Paykan had already impressed many Volleyball experts here with their incisive play. The start fully lived up to expectations of a closely-fought encounter, with both teams successfully completing their side-outs. They were tied at 23-all only for the South Americans to claim the first set through points from captain Gabriel Arroyo and Pereyra (25-23).
The second set was equally close until Paykan claimed the first real mini-break at 16-12 via the help of Seyed Mohammad Mousavi, whose mighty jump serves had already impressed in the semifinal against Trentino BetClic. The Iranian side were, as usual, conveying most of their attacks to their middle blockers while, at this stage, Bolivar were struggling to achieve the right consistency with their blocking.
Yet, in an entertaining contest, Weber's men came back to 19-all with a couple of delicious tips and a block from Lucas Ocampo before Arroyo stopped the next Paykan attack to put them in front. Luciano De Cecco – with another block – made it 21-19 to the delight of the Argentinian fans in the Al-Gharafa sports hall but the Asian champions levelled at 21-all to set up a tight finish to the set. Pereyra committed one of few mistakes but Ocampo found a block-out for 22-all. Then De Cecco produced a rocket from the serving zone and Pereyra redeemed his previous error with a block that earned two set points. It fell to captain Arroyo to complete the set with his trademark, a fast from the middle, for a 2-0 lead.
The South Americans had wings on their feet after coming through two tight sets and they strode into a 11-6 lead in the third on the back of a solid defence, some good blocks and continuous variations in attack. Yet it was too soon to start celebrating; Arroyo and company lost concentration and Paykan took full advantage to claw back the points and by the second mandatory stop they were just one behind at 16-15. Although Pereyra helped Bolivar claim a 21-19 lead, an ace from Arash Kamalvand made it 22-all and, despite Weber calling for a break, this time his team’s luck ran out as the Iranians took the set 25-23.
In set four, the score stayed tight up to the second technical time-out but then the Argentinians seemingly ran out of fuel. Fading mentally and physically, they paid the price for too many mistakes while Paykan's middle blockers, by contrast, did not miss a single attack. Iranian opposite Bazargarde scored from the back row to take the game to a tie-break, only the second in this tournament so far after the 3-2 defeat the men from Tehran had suffered in their opening game against PGE Skra Belchatow.
Paykan started the tie-break well but Bolivar were not going down without a fight and coach Akbari was forced to call a time-out as the South Americans pulled back into contention at 7-6 down. After the teams changed sides, Ocampo drew the count to eight-all with a splendid crosscourt and, as was the case in the previous sets, it became clear the game would rest on the smallest of details. Paykan were the ones to profit and although Bolivar diverted one match ball for 14-13, setter Amir Hosseini became the man to write history for Iran with his winning second touch.