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U.S. Men Fall in Five to Iran

By BJ Evans | Sept. 02, 2014, 1:35 p.m. (ET)

KRAKOW, Poland (Sept. 2, 2014) – The U.S. Men’s National Team fought back from an 0-2 deficit, and held off two Iran match points in the fifth set, but Iran ended up with the 25-23, 25-19, 19-25, 18-25, 17-15 victory on Tuesday at the FIVB Men’s World Championship at Krakow Arena.

David Smith
  David Smith (20) plays the net against Iran on Tuesday.

The U.S. Men’s record in Pool D is 1-1 and they have three points. Iran improves to 2-0 with four points. The U.S. Men will face Puerto Rico at 7 a.m. ET on Thursday. (U.S. World Championship matches will be shown LIVE on BeIN Sports TV and online. Check your local listings for more information.)

“I actually thought before this tournament that there was a chance that we could play five sets every single match,” U.S. Head Coach John Speraw said. “I was hoping to win them… People talk about the points and all that. I just want to play. I just want to get another win. I just want to play well in the first set of the next match and go from there.”

The U.S. Men did not play their best volleyball in the first two sets of Tuesday’s match as they struggled from the service line and tried to find an answer to Iran’s tough serving. Iran led 6-1 in aces after the first two sets. Iran’s fast-paced offense also seemed to catch the U.S. off guard, even though the two teams played each other just last month in the USAV Cup series in California.

“That’s the reason that we have lost the sets that we’ve lost so far – a breakdown in passing and our serving is not so tough to put them into trouble,” U.S. opposite and outside hitter Matt Anderson (West Seneca, N.Y.) said. “I think we weren’t focused all the way through on every point.”

Speraw went with a starting lineup of Anderson at opposite, Taylor Sander (Huntington Beach, Calif.) and Garrett Muagututia (Seaside, Calif.) at the outsides, David Lee (Alpine, Calif.) and Max Holt (Cincinnati, Ohio) at middle blocker, Micah Christenson (Honolulu, Hawaii) at setter and Erik Shoji (Honolulu) at libero.

In the second set, he brought outside hitter Tony Ciarelli (Huntington Beach, Calif.) in for Muagututia, but the U.S. Men still struggled. So to open the third set, Speraw moved Anderson to outside hitter with Sander and brought Carson Clark (Santa Barbara, Calif.) in to play opposite. He also brought middle blocker David Smith (Saugus, Calif.) in to play for Lee.

The moves paid off in the third set. With the U.S. down 11-9, Smith got the serve on Iran’s error and served for three more points, including a block and kill from Clark, to give the U.S. Men a 13-11 lead that they never relinquished. The fourth set turned when two Iran errors took the Asian side from a 13-12 lead to a 14-13 deficit. The U.S. added a block point for good measure and carried the lead to the end.

The fifth set got off to a bad start for the U.S. as Iran took as 2-0 lead on two U.S. errors to open the set. Nevertheless, with Iran leading 13-11, the U.S. scored on a Sander kill and Holt block to tie the score. Iran reached match point at 14-13 and 15-14, but the U.S. came back each time. Iran took its third match point at 16-15 on a kill from Farhad Ghaemi. On the next play,  the U.S. attack seemed to deflect off the fingers of a blocker before falling out of bounds. However, the referee said there was no touch and called the ball out and the U.S. did not win its challenge, giving Iran the victory.

The U.S. Men led in kills (61-56) and blocks (15-11). Iran led in aces 8-5. Iran scored on 29 U.S. errors while committing 26.

Anderson led all scorers with 26 points on 23 kills, one block and two aces. Sander added 25 points on a match-high 23 attacks, one block and one ace. Holt contributed 11 points, including a match-high six blocks. Clark scored nine points on seven kills, one block and one ace.

Libero Erik Shoji (Honolulu, Hawaii) was credited with 25 digs and five errors on 32 assists. Sander was credited with 12 excellent receptions, but also five faults.

Christenson is hoping the U.S. can redeem itself against Puerto Rico on Thursday in its quest to finish in the top four teams of Pool D and advance to the next round of the World Championship.

“With the situation we are in now, we have to treat every match like the championship match,” he said.

U.S. Roster for the FIVB World Championship
No. Name (Position, Height, Hometown, College) 
1. Matt Anderson (OH/Opp, 6-9, West Seneca, N.Y., Penn State) 
3. Taylor Sander (OH, 6-4, Huntington Beach, Calif., BYU)
4. David Lee (MB, 6-8, Alpine, Calif., Long Beach State)
6. Paul Lotman (OH, 6-7, Lakewood, Calif., Long Beach State)
7. Kawika Shoji (S, 6-3, Honolulu, Hawaii, Stanford)
10. Tony Ciarelli (OH, 6-6, Huntington Beach, Calif., USC)
11. Micah Christenson (S, 6-6, Honolulu, Southern California) 
15. Carson Clark (Opp, 6-6, Santa Barbara, Calif., UC Irvine)
17. Max Holt (MB, 6-9, Cincinnati, Ohio, Penn State)
18. Garrett Muagututia (OH, 6-5, Oceanside, Calif., UCLA)
19. Alfee Reft (L, 5-10, Oxnard, Calif., Hawaii)
20. David Smith (MB, 6-7, Saugus, Calif., UC Irvine)
21. Nick Vogel (MB, 6-9, San Diego, Calif., UCLA)
22. Erik Shoji (L, 6-0, Honolulu, Hawaii, Stanford)

Head Coach: John Speraw
Team Manager: Andrea Becker 
Assistant Coaches: Matt Fuerbringer and Mike Wall
Technical Coordinator: Anton Willert
Consultant Coaches: Tyler Hildebrand, Kathy DeBoer, Tim Pelot 
Athletic Trainer: Aaron Brock 
Doctors: David Dyck and Christopher Lee

2014 FIVB World Championship Pool D
Belgium
France
Iran
Italy
Puerto Rico
USA

2014 FIVB World Championship Schedule – Pool D
Kraków, Poland (all times ET)
View the entire World Championship schedule

Aug. 31
Iran def Italy, 25-16, 23-25, 25-21, 25-22
USA def Belgium, 25-21, 17-25, 25-16, 21-25
France def Puerto Rico, 25-23, 25-22, 26-24

Sept. 2
Iran def USA, 25-23, 25-19, 19-25, 18-25, 17-15
Belgium def Puerto Rico, 25-19, 25-17, 25-20
2:15 p.m. France vs Italy

Sept. 4
7 a.m. Puerto Rico vs USA
10:30 a.m. Iran vs France
2:15 p.m. Italy vs Belgium

Sept. 6
7 a.m. USA vs France
10:30 a.m. Belgium vs Iran
2:15 p.m. Puerto Rico vs Italy

Sept. 7
7 a.m. France vs Belgium
10:30 a.m. Iran vs Puerto Rico
2:15 p.m. Italy vs USA

Second Round: Sept. 10-15 in Łódź or Bydgoszcz
Third Round: Sept. 16-19 in Łódź or Katowice
Final Round: Sept. 20-21 in Łódź or Katowice

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