Defending champions Iran didn't make it among the best eight teams of the 2021 FIVB Men's U21 World Championship, as on Friday they lost another five-setter, this time around against Argentina. The South Americans join Belgium into the the upper half of the tournament bracket for the next phase of the competition. The Europeans secured their spot after a clear 3-0 win over Egypt earlier on Friday. On Saturday, Argentina and Belgium will lock horns in a battle for the first place in the pool.

Belgium started off well in the match, taking an early lead (6-1) thanks to Liam Mc Cluskey’s good performance from the serving line. Morocco, led by Mohamed Jabour (two blocks and an ace) tried to recover, but let too many unforced errors affect the score. The players around head coach Kris Eyckmans kept their rhythm and stormed to an 8-1 lead in the second set. Leaving no chances to their opponents, and with 56% success in spiking, Belgium got closer to the victory and eventually took it.

Opposite Robbe Van de Velde made his debut in the championship and celebrated together with his teammates. Ferre Reggers finished as top scorer with 16 points.

“Our opponents have many injured players and couldn’t play using all their strengths. In such matches, it is difficult to keep our own level high, but we did it, and it was a great match. We are currently in first position in the pool, and our goal is to finish there,” Ferre Reggers, opposite of Belgium, told Volleyball World.

Argentina had a great start in the match. Manuel Armoa shined, scoring four out of 14 points, recorded by his Argentina. Although Iran tried to catch up, the South Americans were able to organise and finish their attacks better thanks to excellent reception (82%) and strong serves.

With some explosive counterattacks by Msahdi Jelveh, Iran came back in the match. Wilson Acosta from Argentina tried his best in this part (eight points), but was not able to turn things around.

Then the two sides delivered another thrilling set. Jelveh, Sina and Younes (three aces) took Iran up to the sky until the 20th point, but Acosta’s Argentina fought for each ball. After nail-biting final minutes, Iran emerged victorious with a good performance by the middles. However, when Iran thought it was all over, the South Ameircans showed a fighting spirit, taking advantage of Iran's errors.

In what became their second tiebreaker in two consecutive days, and despite their middle blockers' attempts, Iran couldn't make it. Argentina, on the other hand, counted on the inspired Valentino Vidoni to seal the victory.

Overall, Wilson Acosta was the best scorer with 18 points to his name.

“We knew that it would be a difficult match and that it would last more than three sets. Iran have great potential in volleyball. Personally, I am really happy about the win!” Wilson Acosta, opposite of Argentina, told Volleyball World.