U.S. Men to Host Iran in August

By BJ Evans | May 02, 2014, 4:29 p.m. (ET)

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (May 2, 2014) – Southern California volleyball fans will get an extra dose of high-level competition this summer when the U.S. Men’s National Team plays Iran in the USAV Cup.

The U.S. Men will host Iran for four matches on Aug. 9-16 at sites around Southern California.

The matches will help both teams prepare for the 2014 FIVB Men’s World Championship on Aug. 30-Sept. 21 in Poland.

“The U.S. Men, ranked No. 4 in the world by the FIVB, will be looking for a measure of revenge against Iran after losing to the Asian champions at the 2013 FIVB World Grand Champions Cup in November.

“Iran recently beat the U.S. at the Grand Champions Cup in Japan,” U.S. Men’s Head Coach John Speraw said. “They are a lot better than they used to be and we have to really take them seriously. We are in their pool at the World Championships this fall in Poland and will use these matches to figure them out.”

Iran has been on the rise in recent years. In 2011, it won its first Asian Continental Championship and went on to compete in the FIVB World Cup where it defeated Japan, Serbia, Poland, Argentina and Egypt. It repeated as Asian champion in 2013 and also made its debut in the FIVB World League and finished ninth. It took victories over Serbia, Italy, Germany and Cuba.

Iran punched its ticket for the World Championship by winning Pool B in the Asian Qualification Tournament.

The Iranian team also has a new coach in Serbian Slobodan Kovac, who started in April, taking over for Argentina’s Julio Velasco, who left to coach Argentina’s men’s national team.

The U.S. Men are coming off their first season with Speraw at the helm. They finished 13-11 and won the NORCECA Continental Championship for the first time since 2007. The team has three players from the group that won the 2008 Olympic gold medal, David Lee, Reid Priddy and Sean Rooney, but has also gotten strong performances from a group of young players, including current USC setter Micah Christenson, former Stanford libero Erik Shoji, former Santa Barbara outside hitter Jeff Menzel and former BYU middle blocker Futi Tavana. Two-time USAV Indoor Male Athlete of the Year and 2012 Olympian Matt Anderson continues to be an important presence as well.