Sofia, Bulgaria, September 22, 2018 – Canada ended a three-games losing skid beating Iran 3-2 (25-20, 20-25, 25-15, 23-25, 15-12) in a two hours and 7 minutes five-set thriller. The result eliminated Asians from the 2018 FIVB Men’s World Championship while Canada is still in the running for the second place in Pool G.
In a somber mood after Friday’s debacle against co-hosts Bulgaria Iran failed to show up in the first set. The Asians had a disastrous kill rate of 43%, just one block point and even always reliable captain Marouf was out of sorts. And he was taken off after the second technical break as Canada pulled away for a 25-20 win.
Roles were reversed in Set 2. Marouf was magnificent leaving his attackers often on a single block or even clean at the net. As a result the kill rate rose to 75% and Iranians tied the score after a 25-20 win.
In the third set Canada made a blistering start winning 8 of the first 9 points and never looked back. The North Americans closed it 25-15 for their most comprehensive set win of the championship.
Searching for an inspiration Iran head coach Igor Kolakovic rolled the dice with 17-year old Amir Toukhteh starting the fourth set. And he was rewarded for his faith. Iran was 16-18 behind when the youngster hit two consecutive aces to turn things around. The Asian team went on an 8-2 run and despite needing all of its set points won the set 25-23.
Canada raced to a 5-1 lead in the tie-break but a scoreboard malfunction caused a stoppage of play. After the resumption Iran went on a 5-1 run of its own to tie the score. But Canada never trailed and a serve error by Ghafour on the second match point ended the thriller.
Nicholas Hoag accounted for 29 of Canada points, John Gordon Perrin ended with 28.
Once again Amir Ghafour led Iran in scoring, finishing with 24 points.