U.S. Men in Iran to Play Historic Matches

By B.J. Evans | June 18, 2015, 2:25 p.m. (ET)

TEHRAN, Iran (June 18, 2015) – For the very first time, the U.S. Men’s National Team has traveled to Iran to compete. The U.S. will play Iran in FIVB pool play matches on June 19 and 21 at Azadi Stadium.

The matches will air on Universal Sports on June 27 and 28, respectively, both at 4 p.m. ET.

The U.S. Men go into the matches at 6-0 and leading World League Pool B after winning all of their matches in the United States. Iran is in third place in the pool at 2-4 and got two big victories over Russia in Russia last weekend.

The U.S. Men and Iran first met in 2015 the first weekend of World League on May 30-31. The U.S. won both matches, 3-1 at the Galen Center in Los Angeles before large crowds that included many Iranian fans. However Azadi Stadium, which seats close to 12,000, is expected to be full to capacity.

U.S. World League Page | Match Live Commentary and Stats | World League TV Schedule

While soccer is considered the most popular sport in Iran, volleyball and wrestling are close seconds.

Notes from Iran

  • The U.S. and Iran have played seven official FIVB matches. The U.S. leads the series 5-2, including the two FIVB World League matches in won in May in Los Angeles.
  • Outside hitter Taylor Sander is back on the U.S. roster after missing the last five World League matches with an injured ankle.
  • Quote from U.S. Head Coach John Speraw: “I know from watching video how much Iran has improved over the course of World League. When we played in Los Angeles, I don’t think either team was where they wanted to be. I think our team will have to be very ready and prepared. I expect the Iran we have played in the past at Grand Champions Cup and the World Championship (both events where Iran beat the U.S.).
  • Quote from Iran Head Coach Slobodan Kovac: “I am so proud to be part of this history as the national team from USA plays here and we play there. Thank you for this great moment. I think at this moment the U.S. team is the best in the world.”
  • Quote from U.S. Captain David Lee: “It’s going to be very challenging. It’s going to be very loud. There are going to be a lot of people cheering for the Iranians. We know what to expect, but it’s not going to be easy.”
  • They have been playing instrumental versions of the holiday songs Little Drummer Boy and Good King Wenceslas in a loop in the room where everyone eats their meals. We are not sure if this is special for the U.S. Team or not.
  • The Muslim holy month of Ramadan began Thursday. Many Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset during this time. The World League matches in Tehran are being played at 9 p.m. local time to give fans time to go home and eat before the matches.
  • On Wednesday, the U.S. Men took time out to visit Tehran Milad Tower, the sixth tallest tower in the world. It is 435 m (1,427 feet) from base to the tip of the antenna. The team attended a laser light show and was taken to lunch at a restaurant in the Tehran foothills.
  • The matches will be show in the U.S. on June 27 and 28 on Universal Sports
  • U.S. Roster for FIVB World League
    June 19 and 21
    Tehran, Iran
    No. Name (Position, Height, Hometown, College) 
    1. Matt Anderson (OH/OPP, 6-9, West Seneca, N.Y., Penn State) 
    2. Aaron Russell (OH, 6-9, Ellicott City, Md., 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) 
    8. Reid Priddy (OH, 6-4, Richmond, Va., Loyola Marymount) 
    9. Murphy Troy (Opp, 6-8, St. Louis, Mo., Southern California) 
    10. Thomas Jaeschke (OH, 6-6, Wheaton, Ill., Loyola) 
    11. Micah Christenson (S, 6-6, Honolulu, Southern California) 
    12. Russell Holmes (MB, 6-8, Fountain Valley, Calif., BYU) 
    17. Max Holt (MB, 6-9, Cincinnati, Ohio, Penn State) 
    20. David Smith (MB, 6-7, Saugus, Calif., UC Irvine) 
    22. Erik Shoji (L, 6-0, Honolulu, Hawaii, Stanford)

    Head Coach: John Speraw
    Team Manager: Erik Sullivan
    Assistant Coaches: Matt Fuerbringer and Mike Wall
    Technical Coordinator: Nate Ngo
    Athletic Trainer: Aaron Brock
    Team Doctor: Andrew Gregory

    2015 FIVB World League
    Galen Center in Los Angeles
    May 30: USA d Iran, 25-19, 25-22, 23-25, 25-23
    May 31: USA d Iran, 25-16, 25-16, 20-25, 25-20
    Walter Pyramid in Long Beach, Calif.
    June 5: USA d Russia, 25-18, 24-26, 25-15, 28-26
    June 6: USA d Russia, 25-23, 25-21, 25-16
    Sears Centre Arena in Hoffman Estates, Ill.
    June 12: USA d Poland, 23-25, 25-23, 19-25, 25-22, 15-9
    June 13: USA d Poland, 23-25, 25-23, 25-15, 25-17
    Tehran, Iran
    June 19: USA at Iran
    June 21: USA at Iran
    Kaliningrad, Russia
    June 26: USA at Russia
    June 28: USA at Russia
    Krakow, Poland
    July 3: USA at Poland
    July 4: USA at Poland

    July 15-19: World League Final Round (Must Qualify)
    Rio de Janeiro, Brazil