International Volleyball

IRAN MEN AND AUSTRALIA WOMEN RECLAIM GOLD AT 5TH ASIAN U19 BEACH VOLLEYBALL CHAMPIONSHIPS

IRAN MEN AND AUSTRALIA WOMEN RECLAIM GOLD AT 5TH ASIAN U19 BEACH VOLLEYBALL CHAMPIONSHIPS

Roi Et, Thailand, May 5, 2024 – It was all just history repeating itself at the 5th Asian U19 Beach Volleyball Championships at Ban Nong Ya Ma Community School Courts here on Sunday when Iran and Australia, which had claimed respective menโ€™s and womenโ€™s gold at the 3rd edition in Nakhon Pathom, Thailand in 2021, reclaimed gold, with Kashani Habib Akbarzadeh/Amir Ali Ghalehnovi taking the menโ€™s title with remarkable unbeaten run.

Iranian third seeds Akbarzadeh/Ghalehnovi, who earlier pulled off dramatic 2-1 win against Australians Finley Bennett/Adam Fejes in the pool play, were incredibly dominant in the Sunday morningโ€™s semifinals against another strong pair from Australia, second seeds Killian Donovan/Jett Rocker-Graham.

Akbarzadeh/Ghalehnovi got off to a brilliant start to take a totally one-sided first set 21-10 before Aussies bounced back gallantly to clinch the second set 21-16, forcing the tie-breaker. However, the Iranians continued good combinations with aggressive attacks, nice tips and deceptive shots to win the deciding set 15-10, match and a slot in the afternoon final showdown against Lebanese Hadi El Chabib/Jad Abi Karam.

The Lebanonโ€™s 17th seeds had a fairytale run to reach the Sundayโ€™s final. They stunned Thailandโ€™s top seeds Big Manyahong/Aphichat Thonghin with a magnificent comeback 2-1 win in pool play and demolished Australians Finley Bennett/Adam Fejes 2-0 in round of 16. In the quarterfinals, they repeatedly beat local hopefuls Big/Aphichat 2-0, but struggled hard in the semifinals against Thailandโ€™s  Rueangrit Wiromrat/Suranath Ratanapolsaen.

El Chabin/Jad narrowly edged past the Thai pair, champions at the last weekโ€™s South East Asian (SAVA) U19 Championships at the same venue here, with epic tie-break win 17-21, 21-19, 15-12 in exhausting 69 minutes.

Against Lebanese El Chabib/Jad in the highly-anticipated showdown, Iranians Akbarzadeh/Ghalehnovi performed superbly to limit the rivalsโ€™ defense with their powerful attacks and excellent combinations. They gave no chance to rivals to comfortably seal the deal 2-0 (21-12, 21-12) for the menโ€™s title.

It was the second time that Iranian menโ€™s team returned with gold. The Iranians claimed their first gold in the 3rd edition in Nakhon Pathom three years ago. They also picked up silver at the previous edition here after going down to hosts Thailand in 2022 aside from claiming additional bronze in the inaugural championships in 2016 in Vientiane, Laos.

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