Iran outlasts USA for breakthrough win in Volleyball Nations League

Ralph Edwin Villanueva - Philstar.com
Iran outlasts USA for breakthrough win in Volleyball Nations League
Iran notched its first win in the VNL after a five-set thriller against USA.
STAR / Russell Palma

MANILA, Philippines -- Iran finally broke through in the men’s Volleyball Nations League after grinding out a win over the USA in a five-setter, 26-28, 25-23, 25-18, 26-28, 15-13, Wednesday night at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.

Poriya Hossein Khanzadeh spearheaded Iran with 23 points off 22 attack points and a service ace. Milad Ebadipour finished with 20 of his own.

Iran, which lost its first eight games of the tourney, had to overcome a scare from the Americans to grab their maiden victory.

The USA led by a point, 10-9, late in the fifth set after a kill by Torey Defalco.

Iran, though, scored three straight capped by a block point by Milad to grab the 12-10 advantage.

They would keep the lead the rest of the way as they kept their distance despite attack errors.

An attack by Defalco cut the lead to one, 12-13, but a service error on the other end by USA pushed Iran to the match point.

Defalco once again tried to tow his team back with a kill off the block of Mohammad, but a hit by Poriya ended the match once and for all.

In the fourth set, USA looked primed to take the easy way into the fifth set, taking a 23-20 lead with a Defalco kill.

They also had the 24-22 edge off a Defalco kill, but an error by the Americans and a block point by Amin forced the extended fourth set.

The two teams traded points, but ultimately, Defalco took matters into his own hands and secured the fifth frame, 28-26.

It was an overall impressive performance for the 27-year-old outside hitter, who exploded for 33 points for the USA. Matthew Anderson backstopped with 13.

USA dropped to 3-6 in the tourney. They will face Brazil next, while Iran will duke it out against the Netherlands. Both games will be on Thursday.

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