Iran earn first victory over the hosts Vietnam
Iran produced a magnificent come-from-behind 3-1 (19-25 25-14 32-30 25-23) victory over hosts Vietnam in their 5th-8th classification round of the “SMM” 5th AVC Cup for Women at the Vinh Phuc Gymnasium on Monday to next fight it out against Chinese Taipei for the fifth place at the top-notch competition.
In the Pool A preliminary rematch between Iran and hosts Vietnam, the former fielded key players including Maedeh Borhani, Zainab Giveh and Farnoosh Sheikhi, with the latter sending a strong line-up which gave Kazakhstan a sturdy challenge in the knockout quarter-finals the previous day before going down to the Kazakhs in close battle 23-25 23-25 23-25. They included the 187cm-tall Tran Thi Thanh Thuy, hard-attacking Ha Ngoc Diem and Nguyen Thai Ngoc Hoa.
Vietnam made a strong start in the first set to race to an initial 10-2 lead before stretching it to 15-2, thanks to their impressive teamwork and Tran Thi Thanh Thuy’s thundering attacks. However, the host side dropped their rhythm, allowing the visitors several attacking opportunities. Iran narrowed the gap 16-23, but Vietnam held them off with their fine time to bag the set 25-19.
Iran intensified their defence in the second set, with Neda Chamlanian, who replaced Maedeh Borhani in the first set, penetrating the Vietnamese defence with her exceptional spikes to put the visitors in the pole position 12-9 before advancing 15-9. Morale boosted by the home fans, Vietnam tried hard to stage a fightback, but Iran foiled their attempts to take the easy set 25-14.
The third set turned out to be a hotly-contested battle with both sides locked in a tight contest. The host team took an early 16-13 lead before the Iranians stormed back with mighty attacks from Giveh and Chamlanian and scintillating blocks to level 22-22. After that, the on-going game became a see-saw battle, with leads changing hands for several times. As the Iranians were leading for good 31-30, Chamlanian produced a devastating spike to the back court which went without responding. Iran claimed the see-saw set 32-30.
The fourth set was the similar script when Iran and Vietnam traded points from the beginning. Iran continued their superb form with spectacular attacks to lead 15-12. However, Vietnam were just-never-say-die as they bounced back mightily, thanks to Tran Thi Thanh Thuy’s explosive attacks to tie the score 21-21. At the final assault, Iran fared better to capture the thrilling set 25-23 and match.
Iran will go up against Chinese Taipei in the 5th-6th place playoff, while Vietnam will battle it out against winless Korea for the seventh position.
Mahsa Kadkhoda scored a match-high 21 points including 17 kills from 43 attempts. Neda Chamlanian contributed with 13 kills. Farnoosh Sheikhi added with 5 points from her solid blocks, while Pham Thi Kim Hue top scored with 15 points for Vietnam including 3 kill blocks and 5 ace serves.
“What to say? It’s a beautiful win. I’m so happy with my team’s victory. I like their feeling of enjoying the victory, which is the best feeling in sport we the players can feel. I think my players performed well beyond my expectation in an important match against the hosts, to whom we lost in the preliminary match. It’s a sweet revenge for that loss. That day, they won the match and made their crowds happy after the opening ceremony, but today is ours. We need this victory. We next take on Chinese Taipei and I dare say it’s not easy. Every match for us is very difficult. I’m so realistic. However, if my girls can play like today, play with all their hearts, they can come up with good results. It’s still difficult,” Iran’s head coach Serbian Majda Cicic commented after the match.