FIVB Men’s U23 Champs/ Iran brought Russia the 1st loss
Cairo, Egypt, August 23, 2017 – Defending champions Russia lost their first match at the 2017 FIVB Men’s U23 World Championship here on Wednesday, going down to Iran 4-3 (15-11, 12-15, 10-15, 15-13, 13-15, 20-18, 15-11), but knocked the Asians out of the semifinals when they claimed their third set for a 3-2 lead.
The result leaves Russia in second place of the final Pool B standings, which sets them up for a semifinal confrontation Brazil, who are now the only undefeated side in the tournament and have topped Pool A.
Argentina, who took avantage of Russia’s loss to finish at the top of Pool B, will meet Cuba in the other semifinal on Thursday.
Argentina, Russia and Iran all completed pool play on 4-1 records, but Argentina had 13 points, Russia 12 and Iran 11.
Despite losing the last point of the third set on a red card to go 1-2 sets down and then seeing coach Juan Cichello expelled for the fourth, Iran rallied to tie the game at 2-2 and kept the pressure up until the very end in the fifth. It was a beautiful dig by libero Aleksei Chankchikov followed by a kill by Kirill Ursov off the tips of the hands of the Iranian block and out of bounds on Russia’s first set point that clinched the deal, earning the defending champions their third set and securing their ticket to the semifinals.
Russia had the chance to close the match in six and avoid Brazil in the semifinals, but they blew five match points before Iran forced a seventh on their own first opportunity.
All matches in Cairo are played under a new scoring system currently being tested: a best-of-seven, 15-point set format.
It was Russia’s second consecutive seven-setter, after they beat Argentina on Monday, and, at 198, the highest scoring match in the tournament so far bettering Monday’s match by nine points.
At exactly two hours of playing time, it was also the longest match so far in the tournament.
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