Florence, Italy, July 16, 2014 - The FIVB World League finals got underway with two great games at the Nelson Mandela Forum in Florence on Wednesday.
Russia beat Iran 3-2 (18-25, 25-18, 25-21, 35-37, 15-8), but it was far from comfortable for the title holders as Iran battled right to the end of the match. In front of a huge number of Iran supporters, the World League finals debutants won a thrilling fourth set to take the match into a decider.
Despite the defeat, Iran have a point, and the pool remains wide open. Should Brazil defeat the Russians and Iran get a result against Brazil in the game on Friday, Slobodan Kovac's side could still qualify for the semi final.
Russia face Brazil in their next match on Thursday at 17:30. Iran faces Brazil on Friday at 17:30.
In the evening game, Italy beat USA in straight sets (25-22, 25-21, 26-24). With Ivan Zaytsev dominant, scoring 21 points in total, the first two sets were fairly simple for Italy. In the third, USA got six points ahead, but Italy's all round excellence and Zaytsev's serves got them back in the match. They finally won the set 26-24, and the match.
USA must bounce back immediately, as they face Australia at 20:30 on Thursday, while Italy play the Volleyoos at 20:30 on Friday.
Marouflakrani hails Iran performance after Russia defeat
Florence, Italy, July 16, 2014 - After losing 3-2 to Russia in the first match of the 2014 Volleyball World League, Iranian captain Mir Saeid Marouflakrani hailed an amazing performance by his team, regretting the inability to close the match in the last set.
He said: "It was an amazing match, we could have won it but in the second and third sets Russia’s experience proved decisive. Now we will wait to see the results of Brazil against Russia tomorrow before thinking of our chances for qualification."
Russia’s Sergey Savin admitted the match had been tricky. He said: “It was a very tough match and Iran were very hard to play against, but we got there in the end. We know Iran are a team on the up, and they are very strong. But we are Russia and we must win. Tomorrow we play a great team in Brazil and we know what we need to do to win.”
Russia face Brazil in their next match on Thursday at 17:30. Iran faces Brazil on Friday at 17:30.<
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