Iran’s men’s U21 side showed why their country’s men’s volleyball teams are being tipped to challenge for global honours when they crossed the Gulf to win gold at the Bahrain 2019 FIVB Volleyball U21 World Championship.
Coach Behrouz Ataei Nouri and captain Amirhossein Esfandiar drove their team to a victory that was secured with a 3-2 (17-25, 25-17, 25-23, 22-25, 15-12) win over Italy in the gold medal match at the ISA Sports City Hall in Bahrani capital Manama.
Esfandiar and Porya Yali led scoring with 20 points apiece for Iran, while Daniele Lavia was Italy’s highest scorer with 19.
Iran’s success ended a run of 13 editions in which Russia, Poland and Brazil provided the winners.
Brazil completed the podium line-up with a 3-0 (25-21, 27-25, 15-12) victory over Russia in the bronze medal match.
Sixteen teams – four from Asia and Europe, three from North and Central America and the Caribbean, and Africa, and two from South America – competed in 64 matches from July 18 to 27.
Iran made their intentions clear from the start with a 3-0 (25-13, 25-19, 25-19) defeat of Tunisia. However, they then slipped to a 3-2 (21-25, 25-19, 23-25, 25-21, 14-16) loss to Russia.
Nouri’s team recovered by beating the Czech Republic 3-0 (29–27, 25–18, 26–24) to finish second in their pool.
They again won two from three in the second pool round, victories over Argentina and Bahrain sandwiching a 3-1 (25-23, 25-22, 20-25, 31-29) defeat to Italy.
Brazil stood in Iran’s way in the semifinals, but they showed their class to knock out the reigning champions in impressive fashion, with a 3-0 (25-20, 25-14, 25-17) victory.
Following the gold medal match Esfandiar was named tournament MVP, Morteza Sharifi was named as one of two best outside spikers and Mohammadreza Hazratpourtalatappeh was voted best libero.