2017 FIVB MEN’S U21 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP – Pool C
- Pool C
- June 23rd-25th, 2017
- Ceske Budejovice, Czech Republic
- MU21 World Championship Round 1
Pool C Standings:
Iran and Argentina both came in to the day winners of their first two matches. The winner would become the pool champion, although the losing team still was assured a spot in the top eight. It was Iran pulling through for the victory after they almost lost a 2-0 set lead, putting them atop the table. Interestingly enough, the two nations had the same amount of points as Argentina was more decisive in their wins, but Iran did the most important thing by going undefeated.
The other match to round out Pool C play was Italy and Ukraine. Both European sides were 0-2 and it was Italy who found themselves on the right side of a five-set victory after they had to come from down 2-1 to win the match. Neither team did enough to make the top eight, but Italy does feel better after getting their first win of the tournament.
IRAN DEF. ARGENTINA 3-2 (25-21, 25-20, 23-25, 18-25, 15-12)
Both teams had already locked up spots in the top eight, but that didn’t prevent either side from competing for the victory. In a match that went a thrilling five sets, Iran came out with the win even after Argentina made a comeback from down 2-0.
All match, the Iranians were led by Rasoul Aghchehli, who finished with a match-high 26 points. 24 of those came on kills, with two on blocks. Behind Aghchehli and three others who finished in double-figures for points, Iran won set one 25-21 and set two 25-20.
Jan Martinez Franchi was behind Aghchehli’s top mark of 26 points, as he had 25 of his own for the Argentinian side. He was a big reason Argentina fought back in the match, as they just came away with a 25-23 set win in the third.
The fourth was the most decisive set of the match, with Franchi and his four mates who all had double-digit points leading Argentina to a 25-18 set win to force a fifth. In that final set, Iran regathered themselves and took a stand to avoid blowing the 2-0 set lead. It was close throughout, but Iran just had enough to take it 15-12. Although Argentina collected more kills (65-60), blocks (14-9) and aces (6-4), their 15 more attack errors proved to be costly in a losing effort.
“This match was beautiful, Argentina was a very good team,” Iranian head coach Behrouz Ataei told FIVB post-match. “My players could not do everything we had planned but now I am very happy with this result. We earned this first place in our group and we are looking forward to the next stage.”
That next stage for Iran will take place in Pool E as they will be joined by Cuba, China and undefeated Poland. Things weren’t always perfect for Iran, as they got up 2-0 in their last two matches and had to go to a fifth set, but the record remains perfect. They’ll look to keep that alive in their next pool as they look to make a push to the semifinals.
Argentina still has a chance at the semifinal round as well. They’ll go through Pool F, which features matches with Russia and Brazil – who are a combined 6-0 – and ends with Canada. Argentina was dominant in their first two matches, but couldn’t get things going early against Iran. If they can recapture what they did in the first two matches or in sets three and four of this match, they will have a chance at moving on to the final four.
ITALY DEF. UKRAINE 3-2 (25-22, 15-25, 23-25, 25-13, 15-8)
Neither Italy or Ukraine had collected a win in their first two tries, with this match giving one team the opportunity for a win – although neither had a shot at the top eight.
In a match that saw two close sets and three with plenty of separation, things got started with both sides vying for the set one lead. Italy was the better side in the end of set one, but were trounced in set two 25-15. Ukraine had four different athletes with 12 or more kills, as they flexed their muscle in the second.
With the match even at 1-1, the third was tied at 17. After the two sides exchanged the next 12 points to remain even at 23 until Oleh Plotnytskyi, who had a Ukrainian best 17 points, had back-to-back aces to give Ukraine the advantage.
Italy knew they had to win the set and played like it – they shellacked Ukraine 25-13 in the fourth to tie the match 2-2 and head to the final and decisive set. It was more of the same in the fifth, as Italy picked up where they left off to win it 15-8 to cap a run that saw them win 40 of the final 61 points.
Italy won the four major stat categories in the match: kills, blocks, aces and less attack errors. They had a balanced offense that saw 10 different players score a point with only two in double-digits: Paolo Zonca (22) and Giulio Pinali (11).
The win doesn’t completely change Italy’s trajectory, as they still fall short of the top eight. It does get them their first victory though as it sets them up for a better overall finish before they start Pool G on Tuesday.
Ukraine on the other hand goes into Pool H in search of their first win against Turkey, Japan or Morocco. It wasn’t the start that they envisioned, but one that they will look to improve upon next week.
“This is life. You win some, you lose some,” Ukrainian head coach Mykola Pasazhin said after the match. “We expected better results from the team before we left, this is a big disappointment.”