Asian Volleyball Championship:

Iran undone by Japan in final showdown

Japan again proved to be in a league of its own in the continent by cruising to an emphatic victory over host Iran in the highly-anticipated final showpiece of the Asian Men’s Volleyball Championship in Urmia.
Having captured the bronze medal in July’s Volleyball Nations League, the Japanese came out on top in three sets (25-20, 25-18, 25-18) to avenge the final setback on home soil against Behrouz Ataei’s men two years ago.
The formidable trio of opposite spiker Yuji Nishida, skipper Yuki Ishikawa, and outside hitter Ran Takahashi spearheaded the triumph in a jam-packed Ghadir Arena, with the former chipping in a game-high 15 points.
Ishikawa scored 14 points before lifting the tournament’s Most Valuable Player (MVP) award, while Takahashi was named the joint Best Outside Hitter – alongside Qatar’s Raimi Wadidie – after a 10-point contribution in the final as Japan claimed a 10th title in the Asia’s flagship international volleyball event – first since 2017.
There were consolation prizes for the four-time champion Iran – which conceded only a single set against Iraq en route to the final – as Mohammad-Taher Vadi and Amin Esmaeilnejad picked up the Best Setter and Opposite Spiker awards respectively.
Meanwhile, Belal Nabel Abunabot of Qatar and Japan’s Taishi Onodera shared the Best Middle Blocker prize, with China’s Yang Yiming taking the award for Best Libero.
Earlier in the day, Qatar – the only team to win a set against Japan – rounded off a decent run in Urmia by beating China 3-0 (25-23, 25-19, 25-18) in the third-place contest.
Japan will be flying high when hosting the USA, Slovenia, Serbia, Turkey, Tunisia, Egypt, and Finland in Pool B of the Olympic qualification tournament from September 30.
Iran, meanwhile, will be facing a daunting task against host Brazil, and reigning world champion Italy, as well as Cuba, Ukraine, Germany, the Czech Republic, and Qatar in Pool A.


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