Pablo Guzman tries to spike the ball through Iranian block
Varna, Bulgaria, September 12, 2018 – Iran won their opening match in Pool D of the 2018 FIVB Volleyball Men’s World Championship convincingly. 77 minutes was all it took for a 3-0 (25-19, 25-14, 25-18) success over Puerto Rico.
In 1970 Iran made its debut at the FIVB Men’s World Championships. By coincidence it was in Bulgaria. Back then the team won just two sets in five matches and finished last in Pool A. 48 years later, the Iranians are among the best teams in the world. They came to Varna as winners of the Asian Games and showed class right from the start.
Iran quickly went 3-0 ahead and kept the advantage during the opening minutes of the match. A series of blocks by Amir Ghafour and Farhad Ghaemi put the Iranians 14-7 ahead and forced Puerto Rico coach Oswald Antonetti Cameron to take an early time-out. But his players failed to gain any momentum. Four consecutive serve errors extinguished the hopes of a turnaround. Although Iran missed three set points a spike by Saber Kazemi closed the first set 25-19.
It was another explosive start for the Asian Games champions in Set 2. And another early time-out for Puerto Rico. To no avail because Iranian setter Mir Saeid Marouf was magical in every component. He recorded an ace, a block and many times he left his attackers without a block. Iran won the set easily 25-14 despite playing with mostly back-ups after the second technical break.
Pedrito Sierra came on at the start of the third set and Puerto Rico finally showed signs of life at the net. However there was no stopping the Iranians. Trailing 6-8 they won seven of the next eight points to turn the set around. The end was emphatic – three aces in a row by Kazemi. The last one greeted with standing ovations from 250 proud Iranian fans. Next on – the mouthwatering clash with co-hosts Bulgaria on Thursday evening.