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Iran stuns China for Asian Men's U20 gold

Iran celebrate their win at the tournament on Sunday
Manama, Bahrain, October 25, 2014 - Iran pulled off a stunning straight-set victory over China to take gold at the 17th Asian U20 Men’s Volleyball Championships while Korea saw off hosts Bahrain to claim bronze.

All four teams had already booked their place at the 2015 FIVB Volleyball Men's U21 World Championship after qualifying for the semifinals.

Iran d China 3-0 (25-19, 25-18, 25-19)
A match billed as a clash of the Asian junior titans became a volleyball clinic, with Iran strolling to its fifth Asian U20 title - all achieved in the past nine championships.
With the exception of the first five points of the match, which China won, Iran was in total control. The seeds were sown in the sixth point of the opening set, when Rahman Taghizadehrose to block a Runtao Xia spike.
That block not only stopped the Chinese momentum, it also signaled a change in direction for his teammates.
Suddenly Iran were the aggressors; at the net, block after block thwarted the previously untouchable Chinese attack.
Taghizadeh was the central brick in a wall as strong as the great Chinese Wall itself. On 15 occasions Iran scored from blocks, seven of those from the tentacle-like arms of Taghizadeh.
Captain Mohammadjavad Manavinezhadsmashed two spikes so hard into the Chinese floor it was almost as if the ball was made of concrete – suddenly the score was six-all.
Manavinezhad, later named the tournament’s most valuable player, was inspiring. In a contest full of outstanding players, he stood the tallest.
It wasn’t just that he dominated the scoring, finishing with 16 points, it was when he dominated; whenever his team wavered ever so slightly, whenever China threatened to muscle its way back into the contest.
All this from a team that played almost all its pool matches with just ten players, after visa problems left two of its players cooling their heels in Tehran
“I promised you before that at the end of the competition it must be the best volleyball that wins,” Iran's coach, Nafarzadeh Farhad said. “They worked very hard for this, working, working, working, step-by-step. Today the players showed they were one team and they were the best in the competition.”
No-one seemed more surprised by the unfamiliar surroundings the Chinese side found themselves in than the Chinese.
Players who had wreaked havoc on opponents all week had no answers to the Iranian dominance.
Zhejia Zhang, the Chinese blocking machinelater named the tournament’s best middle blocker, managed just one for the night.
Runtao Xia, later to be named best outsidespiker, was restricted to just seven points.
It was a powerful display by Iran, and guarantees Asia will be well served at next year’s U23 World Championships in Mexico.
“In 2007 I was with the Iran youth team when we won the gold medal, and I hope next year we can repeat history and win another gold medal,” coach Farhad said.

Korea d Bahrain 3-0 (25-20, 25-14, 25-22)
Whether it was stage fright, fatigue or maybe a lack of desire but Bahrain finally hit the wall on the final day of competition as they went down in straight sets.

Safe in the knowledge it had secured passage to next year’s World Championships, and that it had achieved its goal of a top four finish, Bahrain allowed the Koreans to dictate the play.

Korean coach Jinsoo Noh said he was a bit surprised how one-sided the game was.

“Our players really lifted for the last game of the Championship,” he said. “I think Bahrain wasn’t familiar with the ‘Asian’ style of play.”

They also struggled with control giving up 26 errors, compared to 14 from Korea.

Coach Noh said his team was thrilled to finish third. Before the competition began he thought the height of China, Iran and Japan would prove too much for his team, so to beat Japan was an outstanding result.

Bahrain assistant coach Fuad Abdulwahed said his team was below its best.

“We made a lot of mistakes, especially with our serve receive and our serve,” he said. “The team did not put up a good show. Maybe it was physical, because this was their fifth match and maybe they are not in good physical condition. They also couldn’t concentrate.”

Korean captain Donggeun Jeong continued his outstanding tournament, finishing with a game-high 16 points.

For Bahrain, Mohamed Anan returned 14 points.

Japan d Chinese Taipei 3-0 (25-23, 25-18, 25-18)
Chinese Taipei gave their all in the opening set against top seeds Japan lost its momentum quickly as they went down in straight sets.

Sixth is a reasonable result for Chinese Taipei, while Japan would have cause to be disappointed with its fifth placing.

The country was aiming for a third consecutive Asian U20 title, and only lost one game in Bahrain.

Korea’s demolition of Bahrain in the bronze medal playoff after pushing China the previous day shows Japan should not be too upset at losing to its neighbors.

Qatar d Thailand 3-1 (20-25, 25-16, 25-14, 25-19)
Qatar coach Sattler Tine believed he would have a challenge lifting his team for their final game in Bahrain, and early on that seemed the case.

Nothing should be taken away from Thailand however, who were desperate to prove they belonged in the top eight and played accordingly.

But Qatar had already shown it is a much-improved team. As coach Tine said after the win, his team’s only losses in Bahrain were to Iran, China and Japan.

Ratmt Wadidie had another big match for Qatar, finishing with 25 points, and the team scored another 16 points from powerful blocks.

Chakkit Chandahuadong top scored for Thailand with 15 points.

India d Kazakhstan 3-1 (25-20, 34-36, 25-22, 25-10)
Rounding out the top ten was never in the script for India and Kazakhstan; both had ambitions for a top eight finish.

What unfolded on Saturday was a dour struggle. The second set, at 36-34, was the longest of the week. Sets one and three were also a tussle.

By the fourth set Kazakhstan had run its race, India eliminating the mistakes which had cost them dearly in the first three sets to secure ninth position.

India blocked its way to 14 points, while 37 errors proved costly for the Kazakhs.

Kazakhstan’s Denis Kucherov was the game’s high scorer, with 19 points.

Sri Lanka d Saudi Arabia 3-1 (25-17, 25-18, 25-27, 25-21)
A frustrated Saudi coach, Georgi Petrov, was lamented his side’s ill-discipline after his team’s loss to Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka, on the other hand, was focused all week, and thoroughly deserved their 11th place.

Coach Jayasekara believed his team should have finished higher, having given up chances the previous day against Kazakhstan.

Saudi Arabia never really recovered from defeat to Bahrain in the opening match. Petrov treated that match like a final, and his team came up well short.

Sri Lanka’s Isuru Madushan was the stand-out player on the court tonight, finishing with 25 points.

Turkmenistan d New Zealand 3-2 (25-22, 19-25, 26-24, 19-25, 15-12)
The day’s only five-setter, and a couple of unforced errors were all that split these two countries battling for 13th spot.

New Zealand was still smarting from its five set loss to Kazakhstan; there were eerie similarities with Saturday’s result, the Kiwis going down 15-12 in the fifth.

Turkmenistan had picked up two wins in the tournament already, including over Central Asia rival Uzbekistan on Friday.

New Zealand led the statistics in all areas, including errors; 37 to Turkmenistan’s 26 a crucial difference.

Maldives v Uzbekistan – Maldives win by forfeit.

Hong Kong d Kuwait 3-0 on Friday. 

Individual championship awards;
Best setter: Yu Yaochen (China)
Best outside spiker: Valaei Akbar (Iran)
Best outside spiker: Xia Runtao (China)
Best middle blocker: Alla Verdian Sahand(Iran)
Best middle blocker: Zhang Zhejia (China)
Best libero: Lee Sanguk (Korea)
Best opposite spiker: Mohamed Anan (Bahrain)
Most valuable player: MohammadjavadManavinezhad (Iran)

Chinese Taipei
Sri Lanka
Saudi Arabia
New Zealand
Hong Kong 


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