Bandar Anzali, Iran, October 17, 2018 – Teams from Thailand, Iran, Kazakhstan and Poland advanced straight to the quarterfinals at the Bandar Anzali one-star stop on the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour by winning two pool matches each on day 1 of main draw action on the Caspian Sea coast.
Pool A was by far the most interesting one of the four. Wild cards Sina Enayati and Javad Firouzpourbandpei, seeded bottom 16th, delivered a major upset of top-seeded Bahman Salemiinjehboroun and Arash Vakili in the all-Iranian three-setter. The underdogs came back from a set down to emerge with a 2-1 (16-21, 21-19, 15-12) victory after 53 minutes of play. An all-Thai three-set thriller featured in the other Pool A semifinal, with ninth-seeded Narongdet Kangkon and Dunwinit Kaewsai snatching a 2-1 (22-20, 17-21, 15-12) win over eighth-seeded Kitti Duangjinda and Banlue Nakprakhong. Kangkon and Dunwinit went on to master a 2-0 (21-13, 21-12) shutout of Enayati and Javad to top the final pool standings and progress to Thursday’s quarterfinals, while Salemi and Vakili managed to stay in contention with a straight-set victory over Kitti and Banlue in the survival match.
Javad spikes against the block of Salemi on the way to the biggest upset of the day
Second-seeded Iranians Rahman Raoufi and Abolhamed Mirzaali did not face any issues of that kind in Pool B and qualified for the quarters with two straight-set victories – 2-0 (21-10, 21-10) over compatriots Amir Shoushtarizadeh and Vahid Nikoufar and 2-0 (21-14, 21-16) over Kazakhstan’s Alexey Kuleshov and Artem Petrossyants.
In Pool C, third-seeded Alexey Sidorenko and Alexandr Dyachenko of Kazakhstan cruised to a 2-0 (21-7, 21-9) landslide over Italy’s Emanuele Monduzzi and Antonio Basti, but their pool final with 11th-seeded Abbas Pourasgari and Alireza Aghajanighasab of Iran had to be resolved in a tie-breaker – 2-1 (21-18, 10-21, 15-11) in favour of Sidorenko and Dyachenko.
Poland’s Kacper Kujawiak and Mateusz Paszkowski, seeded fifth, topped Pool D. They started off with a speedy 2-0 (21-17, 21-10) win over Russia’s Vsevolod Bobrikov and Aleksandr Kramarenko, but faced a much tougher battle in the winners’ match with fourth-seeded Sergey Bogatu and Dmitriy Yakovlev of Kazakhstan. With the tie-breaker going deep into overtime, the Poles emerged with a 2-1 (21-18, 12-21, 21-19) victory and a direct ticket to the quarterfinals.
Finishing second or third on their respective pool standings, with one win and one loss apiece, four duos from hosting country Iran, two from Kazakhstan, and one each from the Czech Republic and Slovenia will play in the first elimination round on Thursday morning for the four remaining vacancies in the quarterfinals.