Iran heroically fights just to be defeated in last minute

TEHRAN, Aug. 10 (MNA) – Iran's volleyball national squad have fought heroically, equaling in fourth set after initial two-set defeat against Poland. The marathon ends when Poland wins the fifth set 18-16.

After a defeat in the hands of Argentina and their former coach Julio Velasco on Monday in Pool B of the Rio Summer Olympics 2016, Iran's volleyball squad were hopeful to write the history by defeating world league champions Poland. The beginning had 3 points for Poland as Iranians were distracted and not concentrated yet minutes into the match. However, Iran recovered and gained points until when Poland's excellently prepared men were ahead 8-5.

Individual blunders in Iranian side was a boon for Poland and they snatched the opportunity to lead 16-11. Iran performed poor in first receives and Poland now soon reached point 20 while Iran gained a point in several exchanges to reach 14. An excellent service by Ebadipour and a coordinated match again secured a point for Iran in euphoria. However, Poland were scoring again and again to reach 23, a critical point in creating the secure margin of points. With 7 points ahead, Poland easily were winning the first set now in point 24. Iran secured point 17, but Poland finished in point 25 to win the set.

The second set began with Poland scoring. An exchange over the net finally won point for Poland until in point 3 Iran equaled, before lagging behind again 7-4 which forced Lozano to request a timeout. The first point after timeout was won for Iran. Poland however was ahead again where Iran's defense sent the ball out. The match was close enough and Iran compensated for points and just was behind 2 points: 10-8. A cooperation of Mahmoudi and Ghafour wins a point, but Iran's defense again was out to give a point for Poland, now 12-10. Iran was working far better than it did in the first set. A challenge was requested by Lozano which returned the point for Iran: 14-13, but Poland was again ahead in point 15. A defense by Iran's Mousavi equaled the points but Mahmoudi's attack was out and Poland went to second time out. With Mahdavi incoming the match, his service finds no way to the field and Poland was ahead, however, with a blunder Iran equals in 17, and finally being ahead in 18 for the first time in the match, albeit short-lived, as Poland equaled soon, and subsequently scoring again to reach 19th point. Ghaemi's attack and Poland's defense out again equals the point for Iran. Points are closely exchanged when Lozano requested again a timeout in point 21-19.

Ghaemi again scores point to send Iran again aloft and euphoric: 22-21. Now Iran sends a service by Ghaemi again out and Poland reach 23. Exchange of points again is close; however, this is Poland to reach 25 in points and claim the second set.

The third set was a hopeful beginning for Iran and nervous and distracted Poland was only happy to reach point 5 while Iran still ahead in point 7. Points exchanged and Iran was ahead in point. Lozano's men exchange point neck-and-neck with Poland. They are excellent in receives and attacks, and finally they win the set to deprive Poland of an easy win with three consecutive sets won: now the result in the scoreboard is 2-1, with prospects of a five-set match should Iran win the fourth set.

Set 4 again is a close exchange of points, this time Poland ahead just 1 or 2 points, however, Iran brilliantly compensating and pinning Poland down to equal points. Poland reaches 14 to create an unsecure margin, which now becomes more secure with a blunder by Iran and Lozano requests a time out, which proves fruitful, since Mahmoudi scores 13th point consequently, with a second point by Ghaemi, who excites the few Iranians in rejoice. Lozano sends Mohammad Mousavi, but is not availing, and Poland scores two points in a raw to reach now 18. Iran's excellent receives and services by Mousavi and Ghaemi who secured the fourth set amid the anger and frustration of Polish players who easily gave points to now heroic Iranians encouraged by the crowd in the stadium. Iran equals the match 2-2 to go to fifth set with an excellent spirit and new hopes to claim the match.

The fifth set begins amid anxiety with a point for Iran and close exchanges of points. Mousavi scores a valuable 4th point after Poland equals in point 3. Now, Epadipour secures a 5 point, however, a bad ball equals again for Poland. Ebaipour gives a ready point to Poland which gets to point 7 in an exchange. Iran's back receives are excellent and Poland are frustrated again when Iran is ahead: 8-7.

With exchange of sides, Poland equals again, but Ghaemi's attack scores again. Now Mahdavi is in service and Poland receive, albeit poor, brings a point. A serendipitous ball falls just on the line when Polish players only watches a point coming to Iran, but they recover and are ahead 11-10. Iran challenges the verdict, but was not accepted. Adel Gholami serves and Poland gets 12 points, just retaliated by Iran and the result is equal again. Hopes for Poland becomes dim when they send the ball out with a long shot and … requests a time out after which it equals again in point 13. Now Iran is ahead again in 14 point, now with more and more hope to reach 15 with Ebadipour squandering the hope, which is again restored by Poland sending the service out. They however equalize in 15th point. A bad receive by Iran and a point four Poland forces Lozano to request a timeout. Poland is equally hapless since Iran equalizes in 16, but the marathon is still going on with another time out requested by Lozano to exploit every possibility to instill spirit of fight into his men. The final point comes when Marouf's shot goes out untouched by Polish defenders. This was a heroic match for Lozano's men who proved enduring enough and who received a standing ovation for their perseverance and heroic match despite the defeat conceded.

This was Iran's first ever point won in Olympics' history. The next match will be against Cuba on Thursday, August 11.

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