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Iran victorious against U.S. in five-set thriller

Iranian players erupt in joy at the end of their come-from-behind victory over USA

Tokyo, Japan, November 23, 2013 - Iran scored a dramatic five-set victory over the United States 28-26, 19-25, 19-25, 27-25, 18-16 in their round-robin match at the World Grand Champions Cup on Saturday.

The result left both teams with a 2-2 record.

The contest marked the first meeting ever between the countries in the World Grand Champions Cup and only third overall. It is the first time Iran has beaten the U.S. in an FIVB competition.

Mojtaba Mirzajanpour led Iran with 13 points in the triumph. Shahram Mahmoudi and Farhad Ghaemi added 11 each.

Matthew Anderson scored a match-high 25 points for the U.S. in the loss. William Priddy and Maxwell Holt contributed 18 apiece.

Iran played very well in the opening set, but appeared unable to keep up the pace against the powerful American attack until suddenly rallying in the fourth set.

The Iranians scored seven of the last nine points in the fourth set to force a fifth set.

Both sides raised the stakes with outstanding play in the final set.

Mojtaba Mirzajanpour's spike gave Iran a 5-4 lead in the first set. A block by Farhad Ghaemi put Iran up 8-7 at the first TTO. A spike by Mahmoudi made it 10-7 for Iran. After an Anderson spike it was 13-10 for Iran. A net infraction by Iran took the count to 15-12. Iran displayed good defense and served well. Anderson served into the net and Iran led 16-14 at the second TTO.

A block by Tavana Vaafuti pulled the U.S. within one at 17-16. Carson Clark sent a serve wide and Iran was up 19-17. A block by Mahmoudi made it 20-17. Anderson's spike again brought the U.S. within one at 21-20. Rahman Davoodi's spike made it 22-20. Anderson's block made it 23-22. The U.S. equalized 23-23 on a net infraction. Mahmoudi's spike gave Iran a set point at 24-23. The U.S. tied it again on a spike. Another spike by Mahmoudi gave Iran its second set point at 25-24. The U.S. leveled again at 25-25 on a spike by Priddy. Clark served long and Iran had its third set point. Anderson knotted it 26-26 with a spike. The U.S. could not handle a spike and then Mirzajanpour made a block that gave Iran the set 28-26. Anderson had eight points in the set, while Mahmoudi recorded four.

Mohammad Mousavi twisted his ankle with Iran leading 21-20 in the first set and was carried off by his teammates. He was later taken out of the arena for further treatment.

The U.S. moved out to a 7-5 lead in the second set. The U.S. led 8-7 at the first TTO. Priddy's spike put the U.S. on top 11-7. The U.S. led 16-11 at the second TTO. The U.S. was passing better and was more aggressive from the outset of the set. Clark's spike gave the U.S. a six-point margin at 18-12. Mirzajanpour's spike made it 19-15. Vaafuti soared for a spike and it was 20-16. Priddy's service ace took it to 22-17. Another spike by Vaafuti put the U.S. within two points of the set at 23-18. Mirzajanpour served into the net to give the U.S. set point at 24-19. Anderson closed out the set 25-19 with a spike.

The U.S. established a 6-3 lead in the third set. The U.S. led 8-4 at the first TTO. Strong play by the U.S. gave it a 12-5 lead and Iran called a timeout. Mirzanjanpour smashed a spike and the U.S. led 13-8. Gholami made it 14-10 with a spike that ended an extended rally. The U.S. led 16-12 at the second TTO. The U.S made it 20-15 on a spike by Holt. Priddy's shot made it 23-16. Clark fired a spike wide and it was 24-18. The U.S. took the set 25-19 on a power spike by Priddy.

The fourth set was close from the start. Holt's spike sent the U.S. into the first TTO with an 8-7 edge. Priddy's soft spike put the U.S. in front 12-9. Gholami served into the net and it was 13-10. Another Priddy blast made it 15-12. Anderson's spike gave the U.S. a 16-13 lead at the second TTO.

Anderson served into the net and it was 16-14. Holt sent a serve long and Iran was within one at 17-16. Tavana delivered a spike for 19-17. Anderson fired a spike long and the score was even at 19-19. The U.S. then took a timeout. Tavana's block gave the U.S. back the lead at 20-19. Hamzeh Zarini fired a serve long and it was 22-20. Iran could not handle a Clark spike and the U.S. was two points from the match at 23-20. Clark hammered a crosscourt spike wide and Iran was again within one at 23-22. The U.S. took a timeout. Iran tied it 23-23 on a spike by Rahman Davoodi. Anderson sent over a soft return and the U.S. had match point at 24-23. Davoodi's spike tied it again at 24-24. A block by Ghaemi put Iran in front 25-24. Holt crushed a spike it was level again at 25-25. Gaemi rose again and smashed a spike for 26-25. Zarini gave Iran the set 27-25 with a spike. Iran serve very well down the stretch to take the set.

Gholami's block staked Iran to a 2-0 lead in the fifth set. Zarini came up with a fine block and Iran led 3-0. Another Gholami block made it 4-0. A missed spike took it to 6-2 for Iran.

Davoodi served into the net and it was 7-4. A quick tap by Mehdi Madavi put the score at 8-4. Anderson ripped a spike and the U.S. moved within two at 8-6. A Zarini spike made it 9-6. Davoodi's soft return took the count to 10-7 for Iran. Vaafuti's blcok pulled the U.S. within one at 10-9. Zarini made it 11-9 with a powerful spike. Zarini served into the net and the deficit was again one for the U.S. at 11-10. Clark uncorked a massive serve and the score was deadlocked 11-11. It was 13-11 Iran when the U.S. took a timeout. Tavana's spike made it 13-12 as the U.S. tried to hang on. A block gave Iran match point at 14-12 Davoodi served into the net and it was 14-13. Holt's spike made it 14-14 and the drama continued. Mahmoudi's spike made it 15-14. Holt again kept the U.S. hopes alive with a spike. Another Zarini spike gave Iran its third match point at 16-15. Anderson tied it again with a spike. Zarini put Iran back up 17-16. Zarini ended it with a spike at 18-16.


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