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Epic five-sets battle goes for Poland over Iran

Poland saved an Iranian match ball before celebrating in an amazing fifth set
Lodz, Poland, September 13, 2014 - In an incredible battle in front of a packed Atlas Arena, host team Poland survived a serious scare from Iran and earned a hard-fought win 3-2 (25-17, 25-16, 24-26, 19-25, 16-14). The result qualified France for the next round, while both Poland and Iran keep their chances.

Key points

The thrilling contest was just their second clash at FIVB World Championship.

Poland grabbed their seventh win, getting closer to their best ever streak - 10 victories in 2006.

Iran, meanwhile, has already reached their best campaign - six wins with surpass their total of five in their history at the tournament.

The result automatically qualified France for the third round, as Les Bleus cannot fall below Pool E third place.

Local idol Mariusz Wlazly smashed a personal best of 28 points to stand above all scorers, while teammate Michal Kubiak earned exactly half of those points - 14. Iran had in their blocking star Seyed Mousavi and in Mojtaba Mirzajanpour the two most prolific contributors, with 15 tallies each.

The match began with a high-pitch game as both teams unleashed tremendous spikes. After the first break, Wlazly made massive damage from the service line and opened a 10-8 gap, enhanced by some equally powerful serves from Michal Winiarski (14-9). Iran was speechless against the mighty play from the hosts and the distance grew to 21-14. Kubiak and Dawid Konarski added the final points for the 25-17.

Poland continued their crushing walk over Iran with an ace from Karol Klos that created a 6-3 difference. Wlazly remained as a true nightmare as he combined spikes and a block to extend to 11-6, but the entire local side performed amazingly, giving a huge treat to the fans. Piotr Nowakowski scored the 20-12 and Iran couldn’t do anything as Wlazly gave shape to a 25-16 on the board.

After the long break, Winiarski and Wlazly attacked towards a 9-5 score and the wing spiker fired an ace at 11-6, but the Asian side started playing with a couple of Ghafour’s serves (13-11). Pumped up, Iran kept going as Mirzajanpour achieved a 17-point tie. A wide local ball gave Iran their first lead of the game at 20-19 and, in a nerve-racking finale which included captain Winiarski leaving the court, Armin Tashakori brought down the local passing as Iran grabbed the set by 26-24.

The temperature got higher in a crucial set for both of them. Iran improved from the service line and put Poland under pressure, in a completely different match than before. The Iranian advantage moved from 13-10 to 17-14 and the tie-breaker started to become true in Lodz. Ghafour scored the 20-17, Tashakori aced at 23-18 and a net fault sealed the 25-19, as Iran kept their third round hopes alive.

The final set was mind-blowing. Mousavi blocked home main weapon Wlazly and Iran advanced to 4-2, keeping the lead with Ghafour in great shape (9-7). Poland remained at reach and a stuff block by Klos scored the 11-11. Iran had a match ball in 14-13 with Gholami, but Kubiak spiked and an Iranian mistake changed the tide (15-14). Marcin Mozdzonek seized the chance with another block for an agonic 16-14.


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