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U.S. Falls to Iran in Five

Nov. 23, 2013, 5:20 a.m. (ET)

TOKYO, Japan (Nov. 23, 2013) – A day after winning a close five-set match against Italy, the U.S. Men’s National Team lost an emotional match to Iran, 28-26, 19-25, 19-25, 27-25, 18-16 at the FIVB World Grand Champions Cup on Saturday at Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium.

Matt Anderson attacks against Iran
   Matt Anderson attacks against Iran during their match Saturday.

The U.S. Men will close out the tournament on Sunday when they will face Russia at 3:10 p.m. local time (10:10 p.m. PT).

“Obviously it’s difficult to be on the other side of the match from yesterday,” U.S. Head Coach John Speraw (Los Angeles) said. “I felt a key element to this match was the first set. I didn't think that we came out and attacked the ball from the front court and the service line like we needed to.

“I don’t know if we weren't fully prepared to play or just not as focused as we needed to be.”

After losing the first set 28-26, the U.S. Men came back to win the next two sets 25-19, 25-19. The U.S. held match point in the fourth set at 24-23, but Iran fought back to win 27-25 and carried the momentum into the fifth set.

“We had opportunities and I think we’re a team that has some great things ahead of us,” U.S. outside hitter Reid Priddy (Richmond, Va.) said. “We’re going to take a lot from this match and it’s going to be very valuable to us in the future.”

The victory was the first for Iran over the United States in three meetings.

“For our players, it’s very difficult to play against the U.S. and Brazil because the players know I admire these teams and use them a model to follow,” said Julia Velasco, Iran’s head coach. “I think they played with confidence because they had nothing to lose.”

The U.S. Men led in kills (83-68) and aces (2-0). Iran led in blocks (11-10). Iran scored 32 points on U.S. errors while committing 22.

Matt Anderson (West Seneca, N.Y.), playing at outside hitter, led all scorers with 25 points on a match-high 25 kills. Priddy added 18 points on 15 kills, two blocks and one ace. Middle blocker Max Holt (Cincinnati) added 18 points on 14 attacks and a match-high four blocks.

Opposite Carson Clark (Santa Barbara, Calif.) totaled 17 points on 16 kills and one ace. Middle blocker Futi Tavana (Kalaheo, Hawaii) scored 14 points on 11 attacks and three blocks.

Setter Micah Christenson (Honolulu) scored two points on one kill and one block. He was also credited with 31 running sets. Outside hitter Sean Rooney (Wheaton, Ill.), who played as a substitute, scored a point with a kill.

Libero Erik Shoji (Honolulu) was credited with 19 digs and 13 excellent receptions. Anderson was credited with 16 excellent receptions.

Speraw started Anderson and Priddy at outside hitter, Holt and Tavana at middle blocker, Christenson at setter, Clark at opposite and Erik Shoji at libero. Kawika Shoji (Honolulu) played as a serving substitute. Murphy Troy (St. Louis, Mo.) and Rooney also played as substitutes.

Iran led the first set 23-21 when the U.S. tied the score on Anderson’s kill from the right side and Iran’s violation. Iran took its first set point on a kill by Shahram Mahmoudi, but Iran’s passing error tied the score. The U.S. fought off two more set points before Iran scored twice on a U.S. hitting error and a block from Amin Tashakori.

The U.S. Men led the second set 8-6 at the first technical timeout of the second set, then increased the lead to 12-7 on a serving run from Holt. Iran pulled to within three at 20-17. But Priddy stopped the run with a kill off the block and an ace and Iran never recovered.

The United States jumped out to an 8-4 lead in the third set and never looked back. The U.S. led by as many as seven at 23-16 before winning by six.

The U.S. Men led 23-20 in the fourth set before Iran tied the score at 23 on two kills and a U.S. error. Anderson gave the U.S. match point with a tip, but Iran responded with a kill and block. Holt tied the score at 25-25 with a quick kill. But Iran connected on two straight attacks for the set win.

Iran’s momentum carried over to the fifth set, where it took a 4-0 lead. The U.S. fought back to tie the score at 11-11, but Iran came back with two straight kills. Iran reached match point at 14-12, but served into the net and Holt tied the score with a kill. Iran reached match point two more times, with the U.S. fighting it off each time. But at 16-26, Iran got two straight attacks from Hamzeh Zarini to win the match.

Fourteen-Player Roster for FIVB World Grand Champions Cup 
No. Name (Position, Height, Hometown, College)
1. Matt Anderson (OH, 6-9, West Seneca, N.Y., Penn State) 
2. Sean Rooney (OH, 6-10, Wheaton, Ill., Pepperdine)
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)
11. Micah Christenson (S, 6-6, Honolulu, Southern California)
13. Futi Tavana (MB, 6-7, Kalaheo, Hawaii, BYU)
14. Jeff Menzel (OH, 6-6, Santa Barbara, Calif., UC Santa Barbara)
15. Carson Clark (Opp, 6-6, Santa Barbara, Calif., UC Irvine)
17. Max Holt (MB, 6-9, Cincinnati, Ohio, Penn State)
19. Erik Shoji (L, 6-0, Honolulu, Hawaii, Stanford)
20. David Smith (MB, 6-7, Saugus, Calif., UC Irvine)

Head Coach: John Speraw (Los Angeles)
Team Manager:  Andrea Becker (Martinez, Calif.)
Technical Coordinator: Anton Willert (Berlin, Germany)
Assistant Coach: Matt Fuerbringer (Costa Mesa, Calif.) 
Assistant Coach: Mike Wall (Santa Barbara, Calif.)
Consultant Coach: Gary Moy (San Francisco, Calif.)
Consultant Coach: Tim Pelot (Florida)
Athletic Trainer: Aaron Brock (Storm Lake, Iowa)
Doctor: Andrew Gregory (Nashville, Tenn.)

FIVB Men’s World Grand Champions Cup Schedule
(all times Pacific Standard)

FIVB Men’s World Grand Champions Cup Schedule
(all times Pacific Standard)

Nov. 19
Italy def. Russia, 28-26 25-20 19-25 27-25
Brazil def. Iran, 25-16, 25-17, 25-27, 25-23
USA def. Japan, 25-17, 25-17, 21-25, 25-20

Nov. 20
Iran def. Italy, 26-24, 16-25, 25-23, 23-25, 15-12  
Brazil def. USA, 31-29, 25-23, 25-23
Russia def. Japan, 25-16, 25-17, 25-18

Nov. 22 
USA def. Italy, 25-21, 20-25, 22-25, 28-26, 15-13
Russia def. Iran, 25-23, 25-23, 25-19
Brazil def. Japan, 25-17, 25-23, 25-18

Nov. 23
Iran def. USA, 28-26, 19-25, 19-25, 27-25, 18-16
Russia def. Brazil, 20-25, 22-25, 25-21, 25-17, 15-9
2:10 a.m.: Italy vs. Japan

Nov. 23-24
7:10 p.m.: Brazil vs. Italy
10:10 p.m.: USA vs. Russia
1:10 a.m.: Japan vs. Iran