Varna, Bulgaria, September 15, 2018 – Iran stayed perfect in Pool after outlasting Cuba for a 3-1 (17-25, 25-18, 25-22, 25-19) win. It’s the first time in FIVB Men’s Volleyball World Championship that the Asians start with three wins from their first three matches. Thus Iran secured a place in Round 2 while Cuba, still without a point, is getting closer to the elimination.
Searching for an inspiration Cuba head coach Nicolas Vives Coffigny made two changes in the line-up as Livan Osoria and Osniel Melgarejo got their first starts of the championship. The success was immediate. Cuba established two points lead right from the start. Ace by Miguel Gutierrez and a 5:0 streak got the score to 19-12. Yohan Leon came off the bench with an ace and Gutierrez put the set to bed with an excellent spike. 25-17 for Cuba who got the incredible 81% kill rate in attack.
Iran finally made a run in the second set. Tied at 7-7 the Asian Games champions won six of the next eight points. Searching for a quick turnaround Cubans played with even more risks on serve and failed to even put the ball in play. Trailing by eight points head coach Coffigny raised the white flag substituting Gutierrez. 25-18 for Iran to draw level on the strength of their excellent block – 6 points out of 12 attempts.
It was point for point in the third set until a key video challenge. Cubans thought they had tied at 19-19. However Iran coach Igor Kolakovic challenged for a net touch. And he was correct. Iran never looked back and with team’s first ace of the match setter Mir Saeid Marouf closed the set at 25-22.
Young Cubans fought brave in the fourth as well but after second technical break Iran went on a 5-1 run to secure the win.
Amir Ghafour led Iran scorers with 14 points. Mohammadjavad Manavinezhad finished with 13.
Osniel Melgarejo with his personal high at the championship – 22 points was top scorer for Cuba. Gutierrez added 15.