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Iran retained their Asian Men’s Volleyball Championship title with a 3-0 (27-25, 25-22, 31-29) sweep of Japan in the final at Chiba Port Arena on Sunday.

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Saber Kazemi recorded 19 attacks, a block and an ace to lead Iran in scoring, His teammates Meisam Salehi and Amir Hossein Toukhteh added 12 and 10 points, respectively. Japan captain Yuki Ishikawa and young star Ran Takahashi each made 16 markers in the losing effort.

Japan outscored Iran in attack 56-45, but Iran had better numbers in block 9-2 and service ace 6-2, and gave away only 16 points off turnovers.

Iran and Japan started the match with a lot of intensity, resulting in a tight contest until the final stretch of the opening set. But it was the defending champions that got out of the jam with Kazemi’s back-to-back swings to secure the 27-25 set win.

Another tight contest ensued in the second set, with Iran leading only by two points at 23-21. Aliasghar Mojarad deflected a middle hit by Japan to extend the lead to three and give Iran set point. Issei Otake saved Japan a point off a kill from the left flank, but Kazemi nailed the set-winning kill from the right side 25-22.

In the third set, the host team had a one-point edge at the second technical timeout, but Kazemi wiped the lead out after the break with a powerful spike down the middle. The Iranian opposite was the go-to hitter for setter Javad Karimi each time Japan had a surge, while Takahashi led the host team in offence.

Takahashi and Kazemi exchanged hits to tie the score or give their side the lead in the succeeding plays until the deadlock at 29-all. An attack winner by Salehi and a net fault by Takahashi sealed the championship victory for Iran.

Iran extended their reign and secured their fourth Asian title against East Asian powerhouse Japan, but these two Asian finalists have also secured spots at the 2022 FIVB Volleyball Men’s World Championship in Russia.

Meanwhile, China defeated Chinese Taipei 3-0 (25-17, 25-16, 25-17) to claim the bronze medal.

China captain Jiang Chuan led all scorers with 16 markers built from 12 attacks, two blocks and two aces, while Chinese Taipei had Chang Yu-Sheng leading their offence with nine points.

China outscored their rivals in attack 35-29, block 12-2, service aces 7-1 to claim their sixth Asian Championship bronze medal. Chinese Taipei finished in the Top 4 for the third time after finishing fourth in 1983 and 1997.

In the classification matches, Qatar stopped last edition’s silver medallists Australia in straight sets (25-21, 25-11, 25-23) to make their second-best finish of fifth place in the Asian Championship, and Pakistan matched their previous finish of seventh after their clutch 3-0 (25-23, 25-15, 28-26) victory over powerhouse South Korea.

India made a comeback to win the thrilling 3-2 (25-16, 25-23, 20-25, 23-25, 16-14) encounter with Bahrain to claim ninth place, while Kazakhstan finished in eleventh place, following their 3-0 (25-16, 25-20, 25-23) triumph over Saudi Arabia.

Uzbekistan posted a straight-sets win (25-20, 25-23, 25-21) over Hong Kong to take the 13th position. Thailand also finished on a positive note with a 3-1 (25-16, 21-25, 25-23, 25-20) victory over Kuwait to secure 15th place.

Final Standing

  1. Iran
  2. Japan
  3. China
  4. Chinese Taipei
  5. Qatar
  6. Australia
  7. Pakistan
  8. South Korea
  9. India
  10. Bahrain
  11. Kazakhstan
  12. Saudi Arabia
  13. Uzbekistan
  14. Hong Kong
  15. Thailand
  16. Kuwait