Rouen, France, May 2016, 2018 - Australia conceded its second defeat in Saturday's action at the men's Nation League as Lincoln Williams scored 18 points in a 3-0 sweep at the hands of Iran (25-23, 25-23, 25-21).
Iran, in their usual style, didn't play with much fanfare but coach Kolakovic's men proved once again a well-oiled machine as Ali Shafiei yielded 17 points, including 3 blocks and 2 aces.
Shafiei had a large support crew but special mention needs to go to Seyed Mohammad Mousavi Eraghi (8 spikes, 1 block, 2 aces) as well as Amir Ghafour (6 points).
Opposite spiker Williams was the most gallant in defeat, top-scoring at 18 ahead of Luke Smith (12 points) but the 24-year old misfired and struggled against a solid Iran block.
After losing their opening Nations League games on Friday, both team were after their first win of the season. It was also a matter of regional domination as Iran and Australia met for the third time in a world competition (one win each).
After troubling hosts France (3-1) the day before, Iran started strongly on the back of an interesting run behind the line by middle blocker Seyed Mohammad Mousavi Eraghi (5-9). But it wasn't enough to hold off their Asian counterparts as the Aussies clawed back into the game as Lincoln Alexander Williams managed yet another powerful spike (14-12). Sneakily, Igor Kolakovic's men remained within reach of Australia only to leapfrog in front at the business end of the first set (25-23).
The Volleyroos started the second set strongly but Iran, thanks to its efficient block led by Ali Shafiei, managed to keep composure (6-6). Both teams fought tooth and nails as Seyed Mohammad Mousavi Eraghi levelled at 14-14. Two spikes from Williams then sent Australia in front but the 2007 Asian champs couldn't remain there despite an impressive double block from Max Staples... In a brilliant rally, Iran came once again from behind and closed the deal as Ali Shafiei stole the set with a powerful spike (25-23).
It was more of the same in the third as Iran proved highly efficient, thanks largely to a dominating block (6-4). And when Seyed Mohammad Mousavi Eraghi found the target, there was nothing from stopping Iran to claim its maiden victory. Not Smith's spike at 13-10, not even Shafiei's wide attempt at 18-14. With the wind in their sails, Iran sealed the deal with another misfire by Williams (25-21).