U.S. Men Open World League against Iran

By B.J. Evans | May 28, 2015, 9:20 p.m. (ET)

LOS ANGELES, Calif. (May 28, 2015) – With three weeks of practice and three days of competition under its belt, the U.S. Men’s National Team will begin defense of its 2014 FIVB World League title against Iran on May 30-31 at the Galen Center on the campus of the University of Southern California.

 U.S. Men's National Team
   U.S. Head Coach John Speraw talks with the team in 2014.

Although the U.S. starting lineup for 2015 includes all World League veterans, they will need some time to adjust to their roles. That became clear in a five-set loss to Canada on May 23 in the final of the NORCECA Champions Cup. Although the United States qualified for the 2015 FIVB World Cup at the tournament, the loss to Canada was a wake-up call.

“We just got beat by a team without their best player on the floor, and that has to be very sobering moment for us and reflect on how we train and play as a group,” U.S. Head Coach John Speraw said following the loss to Canada, who played without starting opposite Gavin Schmitt. “I wanted to play with this lineup as I feel we need the reps as a team. We still have a lot to learn going into Iran next week.”

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At the Champions Cup, three-time USA Volleyball player of the year Matt Anderson moved back to left-side outside hitter, his natural position, after playing on the right side for most of 2013 and 2014. Murphy Troy moved to the opposite position after a stellar club season in Poland, where he was the league’s leading scorer.

However it is always possible that Anderson could move back to opposite if and when necessary.

Taylor Sander, the 2014 World League MVP, returns as the other starting outside hitter. David Lee, who was the 2014 World League Best Blocker and a gold medalist at the 2008 Olympic Games, is back in the middle along with Max Holt. Hawaiians Micah Christenson and Erik Shoji round out the starting seven at setter and libero respectively.

Iran is a team the U.S. knows quite well after playing them six times in 2014. The United States beat Iran in the World League Final Round and went 3-1 against the squad in a series of friendly matches in August. However Iran came back to defeat the USA during the first round of the FIVB World Championship in Poland.

“Iran is getting better and better and we will need to be ready for them,” Speraw said. “We know them very well, but they also know us.”

Iran arrived in the United States on May 25 after a 14-day camp with five matches in Finland and Czech Republic.

The match on May 30 will begin at 7 p.m. PT while the May 31 match will start at 4 p.m.

U.S. Roster for FIVB World League
May 30-31, 2015 at the Galen Center
in Los Angeles, Calif.

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)
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)
15. Carson Clark (Opp, 6-6, Santa Barbara, Calif., UC Irvine)
17. Max Holt (MB, 6-9, Cincinnati, Ohio, Penn State)
19. Alfee Reft (L, 5-10, Oxnard, Calif., Hawaii)
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: Andrea Becker 
Assistant Coaches: Matt Fuerbringer and Mike Wall
Technical Coordinator: Nate Ngo
Athletic Trainer: Aaron Brock