Olympics-Volleyball-Poland return to winning ways, Iran crush Venezuela

Tokyo 2020 Olympics - Volleyball - Men's Pool A - Poland v Italy - Ariake Arena, Tokyo, Japan – July 26, 2021. Aleksander Sliwka of Poland in action with Gianluca Galassi of Italy. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins

TOKYO (Reuters) - World champions Poland put the disappointment of their shock opening defeat by Iran behind them to beat Italy in straight sets in men's Olympic volleyball on Monday at the Ariake Arena.

Led by indomitable outside hitter Wilfredo Leon (18 points) and Bartosz Kurek (14 points), Poland won 25-20 26-24 25-20 to open their account in Pool A.

Italian duo Alessandro Michieletto and Osmany Juantorena, the heroes of their sensational comeback victory over Canada, had nine points each but Poland's defence proved too strong with the team making 22 successful digs.

Poland are ranked second in the world and Leon said they were happy to get their first win at the Games.

"From zero to 10, I think (our performance) was eight. It wasn't the best," Leon told reporters. "But we won and this is the most important part."

After the five-set epic in their opening win over Poland, Iran had a relatively comfortable outing in their second match against Venezuela, wrapping up a 25-17 25-20 25-18 victory to provisionally top Pool A with Japan playing later.

Iran dominated on serve, made 10 blocks at the net and set up numerous spiking opportunities as Amir Ghafour top-scored with 16 points and Meisam Salehi had 13.

"Today, we controlled the game, we made less mistakes," Ghafour said.

In Pool B, Taylor Sander impressed once again for the U.S. with a match-high 17 points but they went down to the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) team in four sets.

Led by Dmitry Volkov's 16 points, four Russians finished in double figures while the U.S. scrambled to make 48 digs as ROC won 25-23 27-25 21-25 25-23 to top Pool B.

(Reporting by Toshiki Hashimoto in Tokyo and Rohith Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Ed Osmond)

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