Men’s WOQT Day 1 Recap: Iran tops table at the start of competition

Saturday, 28 May 2016
Zuzanna Dulnik - @ZetDe04
Iranians Mojtaba Mirzajanpour and Adel Gholami during the match against Australia at WOQT in Japan (Photo: FIVB)

Day 1 at Men’s WOQT in Tokyo, Japan brought us first split of points and straight set victories. Iran leads the table after 3-0 victory over Australia, Poland and Canada went for a tie-break with Polish claiming the win while France and Japan scored three points losing one set to China and Venezuela respectively. 

Check out WOQT preview here.

Iran vs Australia

Result: 3-0 (25-19, 25-17, 25-18) – watch full match here

Iran opened WOQT race with a victory over their ‘local’ opponent Australia. Iranian are the only to finish the match without a set loss, starting the competition on the top of the table. The team felt confident ahead of the WOQT after winning a couple friendly matches against teams like Poland.

This was a special match because we know each other with Australia well. We lost to them last year at the World Cup. Since I took over in April I have been working with Iran on improving efficiency and reducing errors. I have analysed the team carefully.

Australia started off the wrong foot, but not without health issues in the squad. Team’s bomber Thomas Edgar wasn’t able to help the team throughout the entire match due to strained abdominal. Although he was subbed in during the third set, it wasn’t enough for Australia to keep the match going.

We are very disappointed with the start. We had good preparation for this match and expected a lot. We did not have good rhythm immediately. They had a good serve and attack and that made it difficult for us. We will learn what we can from this match and move on.

Read pre-WOQT interviews with Roberto Santilli and Nehemiah Mote.

France vs China

Result: 3-1 (25-13, 22-25, 25-23, 25-21) – watch full match here

France put a huge pressure on China in the first set, but the opponent responded winning in the second. China’s performance forced the coach to make changes in the squad, subbing out Earvin Ngapeth. The French team managed to find back their rhythm eventually and secured their first victory with full point package.

I think the result speaks for the difference in experience of the teams. We had unity in the team and that helped us to win. I took off Earvin Ngapeth in the middle of the match, because we have other great players.
I was able to see why France is a great team with great experience. We played well. I hope we will gain more experience from these matches. We were not able to relax and play well in key moments. We will continue to play hard in the coming matches.

Read interview with Stephane Antiga and Laurent Tillie here.

Poland vs Canada

Result: 3-2 (25-18, 17-25, 25-21, 18-25, 15-9) – watch full match here

Poland and Canada served their fans a tie-breaker in their match at WOQT in Japan. Polish team claimed the win eventually in the 5th set with Kurek and Mika leading as top scorers (21 and 18), while on Canucks side John Gordon Perrin and Gavin Schmitt scored the most for their team (18 and 17). Schmitt’s performance was specially satisfying for his coach Glenn Hoag as the player missed the club season to recover from two surgeries.

This was a very important victory, as we knew Canada would play better than last year at the World Cup. Gavin Schmitt was good in serve and attack. I’m happy about the character of my players. That is very important in this kind of tournament.
Poland played better in the fifth set. They served and received better. I’m proud of the way my guys played. Gavin Schmitt is back from two surgeries and it was great to see him out on the court. I’m happy to have him back and hope he can play volleyball for many more years.

Glenn Hoag talks to Volleyverse ahead of WOQT – read here.

Full WOQT schedule can be found here.

Japan vs Venezuela

Result: 3-1 (26-28, 25-20, 25-19, 25-19) – watch full match here

Japan and Venezuela opened the match with close play point by point until Venezuela topped the set at 28-26. Japan, led by Kunihiro Shimizu, managed to make a come back to claim three points for their first game.

Shimizu scored 21 points for his team, while Martin Pinerua led his team with 17 points.