This week in beach volleyball

This Week in Beach Volleyball: Iran Kicks off 2020 Season With Dargahan Cup

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With the cancellation of The Hague four-star, which typically marks the onset of the beach volleyball season, and then another cancellation of the Fort Lauderdale Major, which typically marked the first major tournament of the beach volleyball season, most in the beach volleyball world have adjusted their calendars accordingly, setting a March date to begin the year.

But there is still beach volleyball being played this week. While it’s winter in the United States, and Tim Bomgren is doing sled runs at 5 in the morning in Minnesota darkness, it’s in the mid-70s in Iran, which is hosting the first event of the 2020 season. It is not a major event by any means, but there is some history being made here. The Dargahan Cup Qeshm Islands marks the first of two inaugural events being played in Iran, the second of which will be a three-star in Bandar Abbas in February. Both events are men’s only and, given the political climate, it’s possible American teams will stay home.

Just 17 teams entered the event, more than half of which are Iranian, but it is a decorated field, relative to many one-stars. Four teams — three of which are Iranian, the other is Japanese — have medaled on the world tour before, but for the most part, yes, this is a field of the younger, up-and-coming variety. Abolhamed Mirzaali and Rahman Raoufi of Iran have won a gold, three silvers and two bronze medals. Bahman Salemi and Arash Vakili have claimed a gold, silver and bronze, and Alireza Aghajani and Javad Firouzpourbandpei have won a silver. Japan’s Hitoshi Murakami and Takashi Tsuchiya have won a bronze medal.

It is a small start, a quiet start, but it is a start nonetheless to the season, one that will be followed by another one-star in the Cook Islands before the season begins to pick up with three-star events in February.

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