Varna, Bulgaria, September 18, 2018 – Iran beat Finland 3-2 (25-19, 22-25, 23-25, 25-23, 15-12) in an epic duel in Pool D in Varna. The match lasted 140 minutes, just a couple of minutes short of the record for the longest match at an FIVB Men’s Volleyball World Championship since the introduction of the current scoring system.
Despite being assured of a fourth place finish in the pool, Finland put its usual six on the court to open the match. Iran coach Igor Kolakovic opted for a change giving Amir Toukhteh his first start of the tournament. Trailing 11-14 midway through the opening set the Asian Games champions went on a 9-1 run. To effectively kill Finnish hopes. Captain Mir Saeid Marouf sped up the outcome with a couple of wicked serves for 25-19.
The roles were reversed in Set 2. Finland had a 6-2 run to close it 25-22 with a long and emotional final point. Both teams showed great defense as Niko Suihkonen needed three spike attempts before finding a way through the Iranian block.
Set 3 was tight and tense.
There were 11 lead changes and no team led by more than three points. Finnish setter Eemi Tervaportti played big with two blocks, the second to give the Europeans two set points. Saber Kazemi’s spike prevented Finland from closing the set on the first but just moments later he was at fault for touching the net – 25-23.
After Iran won Set 4 25-23 with a late surge, there wasn’t a contest anymore. The Asians raced to a 6-2 lead in the tiebreak to record their fourth win of the championship.
Ghara Ebadipour was the top scorer for the winners with 18 points. Morteza Sharifi recorded a personal high of the tournament with 16, Ali Shafiei finished with 15.
For Finland Niko Suihkonen accounted for 19 points, Samuli Kaislasalo – for 16.
Finland now packs it suitcases for a trip to Milan and Pool E. The Iranians await the outcome of the Bulgaria – Poland match to learn whether they stay in Varna or travel to Sofia for Round 2.