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Hosts Iran retain Asian Men's U23 Championship title with unbeaten record

 
Ardabil, Iran, May 9, 2017 – Iran pulled off a hard-fought 3-0 (27-25, 26-24, 25-20) victory over Japan in the final showdown at the SMM 2nd Asian Men’s U23 Volleyball Championship at the packed  Rezazadeh Indoor Stadium to successfully defend their crown with a remarkable unbeaten record on Tuesday.

Iran’s win in front of about 8,000 fans saw the home team make amends for the senior team's loss to Japan in the final clash at the 2015 Asian Men’s Senior Championship in Tehran, but also shattered Japan’s dreams of making it three in a row at this year’s  Asian Championships. Japan had already claimed the first two Asian Championships in the Girls’ U19s in China and the Boys’ U19 Championship in Myanmar. The Asian Men’s U23 Championship was the third AVC tournament which featured Japan in the final showdown, but this time they lost to their hosts Iran.

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As the top two teams in the competition, Iran and Japan qualified for the 2017 FIVB Volleyball Men's U23 World Championship in Cairo, Egypt from August 18 to 26 after defeating Thailand and Chinese Taipei respectively in the semifinals on Monday.

Japan proved a tough nut to crack in the first set, as Iran sent in six substitutions to cope with the Japanese tactics to win the hard-fought set 27-25. The second set featured a similar script when both sides were locked into a tight contest. However, Iran proved steadier to come up with a better final assault to take the thrilling battle 26-24. Their confidence boosted from a commanding 2-0 lead, Iran won the third set 25-20.

Iran’s head coach Juan Cichello congratulated Japan as both teams secured berths for the World Championship. “We will rest for some days and after ten days, we will start our 12-week preparation for the world meet in Egypt. We are also planning to compete in friendly matches with our main opponents in the world meet,” he said.

Earlier, Chinese Taipei claimed the bronze medal after producing a comeback 3-1 (19-25, 25-21, 25-23, 25-22) win over old foes Thailand in the third-place playoff.

Chinese Taipei’s head coach Yu Ching-Fang said: “We tried for a better position in this championship, but we are now satisfied with the similar third place we won in Myanmar two years ago. Our loss to Thailand in this tournament helped us have a better analysis of them to win this match.”

Meanwhile, China took the fifth place following a one-sided battle against Pakistan in the 5th-6th place playoff, which was won by the Chinese 3-0 (25-15, 25-13, 25-13).

China’s head coach Zhang Qiyong admitted that his team dropped from their best and their fourth place at the previous edition in Myanmar. “This is the first experience of my players here. To finish fifth in this championship was not that bad, but we will try to come back much stronger for a better finish in future championships.”

Kazakhstan struggled in the 7th-8th place playoff match against Malaysia before powering past their spirited rivals in hard-fought five sets 3-2 (22-25, 25-11, 25-23, 20-25, 15-10). Kazakhstan, who finished a disappointing 13th in Myanmar two years ago, claimed the 7th place this time, with Malaysia in 8th position. Uzbekistan, Sri Lanka and Australia finished 9th, 10th and11th respectively.

Among the guests of honour who watched Tuesday's final were Mr. Davarzani, Deputy
Minister of Youth & Sports Ministry of Iran and President of Iran
Volleyball Federation, Mr. Soltanifar, Youth & Sports Minister, and
IRIVF Secretary-General Dr. Afshardoust.

Tuesday's final results
7th-8th playoff: Kazakhstan b Malaysia 3-2 (22-25, 25-11, 25-23, 20-25, 15-10)
5th-6th playoff: China b Pakistan 3-0 (25-15, 25-13, 25-13)
Bronze medal match: Chinese Taipei b Thailand 3-1 (19-25, 25-21, 25-23, 25-22)
Championship match: Iran b Japan 3-0 (27-25, 26-24, 25-20)

Final team rankings
1. Iran - qualified for the 2017 FIVB Volleyball Men’s U23 World Championship in Egypt
2. Japan - qualified for the 2017 FIVB Volleyball Men’s U23 World Championship in Egypt
3. Chinese Taipei
4. Thailand
5. China
6. Pakistan
7. Kazakhstan
8. Malaysia
9. Uzbekistan
10. Sri Lanka
11. Australia

Individual awards
Best Setter: Masaki Oya (Japan)
Best Libero: Suo Hou-Chen  (Chinese Taipei)
Best Outside Spikers
Masato Katsuoka (Japan)
Esmaeil Mosafer (Iran)
Best Opposite Spiker: Amin Esmaeilnejad (Iran)
Best Middle Blockers
Lee Hsing-Kuo (Chinese Taipei)
Sahand Allahverdian (Iran)
Most Valuable Player: Rahman Taghizadeh (Iran)

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