Iran's Paykan crowned Asian volleyball champions after beating Japan's Suntory

Iran’s Paykan crowned Asian volleyball champions after beating Japan’s Suntory

Iran’s premier volleyball club Paykan came from two sets down to beat Japan’s Suntory Sunbirds 3-2 in a five-set thriller on Friday to clinch the 2022 Asian Men’s Club Championship.

In a high-octane final played at Tehran’s Azadi Sports Complex, the Tehran-based volleyball club crushed the Japanese team 21-25, 26-28, 25-13, 25-20, 15-12 to become the Asian champions.

The home team, continuing its unbeaten run in the tournament, stamped its authority with an epic comeback in a pulsating summit clash in front of a cheering crowd.

After going down two sets, Paykan bounced back in the third set through spectacular blocking from Nimir Abdelaziz and Hamzeh Zarini followed by some powerful strikes by Armin Tashakori and Seyed Mohammad Mousavi.

Abdelaziz was the star of the night with 29 points, including 24 attacks from 45 attempts and 3 aces for his team, while Earvin Ngapeth pitched in with 14 points.

It is the eighth time Paykan has emerged as the championship winner, the most for any Asian club. For Suntory Sunbirds, it was the first time in 20 years they had reached the championship final.

The annual continental club competition organized by the Asian Volleyball Federation was held between May 14 and 20 in Tehran and drew a large number of spectators.

Earlier in the day, Iran’s Shadab swept past Taraz of Kazakhstan 3-0 (25-20, 25-15, 25-22) in a lop-sided contest to finish third in the competition.

Shabad had been defeated by Suntory in the semi-final on Thursday 3-1 (22-25, 25-22, 25-20, 25-21).

Paykan overcame Kazakhstan’s Taraz 3-1 (34-36, 25-17, 25-21, 25-17) in the other semifinal on Thursday on its way to the summit clash with Suntory.

The winner Paykan also qualified for the 2022 FIVB Volleyball Men’s Club World Championship.

The Asian Men’s Club Championship was first held in 1999 in China. The competition was not held in 2003 and 2020 due to the 2002–2004 SARS outbreak and COVID-19 pandemic respectively.

Teams from Iran have won the tournament 15 times, the most for any nation, with Paykan claiming the trophy seven times.

Last year, Iran’s Foolad Sirjan had claimed the title, beating A-Arabi of Qatar 3-1.