MU 21 CAN vs IRI39

Two four-set matches determined the places from ninth through 12th in the final standings of the FIVB Volleyball U21 Men’s World Championship on Sunday. Iran topped the Sofia half of the table, finishing ninth after defeating Canada at the Levski Sofia volleyball hall in Bulgaria. Before that, Cuba overcame Thailand’s resistance in the 11th-place match.

Iran produced a 3-1 (25-17, 25-21, 25-27, 25-15) victory over Canada to finish the championship on a high note and in the ninth place in the final standings. The Asian team took advantage of the many opponent errors in the first two sets to take a solid lead. Five solid kill blocks for Canada in set two did not help enough. Canada had a slight edge throughout the third set playing much better in offence. Christopher Byam scored seven points including the overtime winner. The fourth set was all about Iran again. Now bringing in the blocks and still making a lot fewer mistakes than the opponents, they cruised to an emphatic win, with Amin Khalili hammering the victory point.

Iranian middle blocker Mahdi Jelveh and Canadian opposite Christopher Byam shared the top scorer honours with 18 points each. Samuel Cooper added 17 to Canada’s tally. Bardia Saadat contributed 14 to Iran’s success.

“We trained very hard for this tournament and our goal was the gold medal. Unfortunately, we had some problems and we couldn't make it. Still, we are happy because we fought hard. It was definitely a good experience for us. Thanks to both Bulgaria and Italy for the high-level organization demonstrated,” Mahdi Jelveh told Volleyball World.

Cuba came back from a set down to defeat Thailand by 3-1 (35-37, 25-18, 25-16, 25-23) in Sofia on Sunday and claim the 11th place in the final standings. In what was the longest set of the tournament so far, captain Sutthiphong Donlakkham scored 13 times to help Thailand get the upper hand. Cuba reacted swiftly to take control with large-margin wins of the next two sets. In a hard-fought fourth set, Alexei Ramirez led the Cuban team with nine points, but it was Jose Miguel Suarez’s off-the-block hit that delivered the match winner.

Ramirez was the best scorer of the match on a total of 27 points. His teammate Victor Andreu added 21, including three aces, while Alejandro Gonzalez impressed with five kill blocks. Sutthiphong Donlakkham was Thailand’s most prolific player with 25 points to his name.

“After spending almost two years out of volleyball due to injuries, it was a satisfaction to play at a high-level tournament again. I am really happy to be back on the court. In general, we expected to perform better for sure, at least to go to Italy and be among the top eight teams. Still, we gave our best considering the short time we had for preparation as a team,” said Cuba’s outside hitter Victor Andreu.