Iran ended their campaign at the SMM 11th Asian Girls’ U18 Volleyball Championship on Friday by defeating Samoa in straight sets (25-17, 25-17, 25-15) in a playoff match.
The win helped Iran finish in ninth position, one place higher than in the previous edition in 2014. Samoa failed to win a set in the competition. They have a final playoff match against Uzbekistan.
“I have a lot of plans with this team,” Iran coach Majda Cicic said. “I hope we have a chance to go to the 2018 Junior Olympic Games in Argentina.” Cicic added that it was anything but an easy win against Samoa.
“It seems like an easy game,” she stated. “But we found Samoa very hard to play against. They have no certain system and they just attacked from everywhere. I don’t like to play such teams, but for these young girls this is a very good experience. It’s just the beginning for our team. In the near future, I hope we will become much stronger.”
Iran, who survived a daunting challenge from Uzbekistan in a hard-fought five-set win on Wednesday, did not let their supporters down in the must-win match. While Samoa were strong both offensively and defensively, they didn’t help themselves with 35 unforced errors.
Mona Ashofteh led Iran with a match-high 11 points, followed by Habibi Maryam with 10 points. Nadine Pritchard and Christina Haueia contributed nine points apiece for Samoa.
“We prepared well in training,” said Samoa coach Taugali Prithard. “The girls must have been too tired. They could not put in a 100 percent effort. I don’t mind the result, but at least they should try their best.”
The Quarterfinals will see Japan taking on Australia, Thailand going up against Chinese Taipei, China facing New Zealand and Korea playing Hong Kong.
The top four teams in the tournament will qualify for the 2017 FIVB Volleyball Girls’ U18 World Championship in Argentina in August.