COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (June 15, 2017) – The U.S. Men’s National Team held off five total set points in the third set to defeat Iran, 25-17, 25-22, 30-28 on Thursday in an FIVB World League match in Katowice, Poland.

The U.S. Men improved their record to 3-4 in World League while Iran falls to 3-4. The U.S. is fighting to finish pool play among the top five teams as the top five advance to the Final Round (July 5-9) in Curitiba, Brazil. Brazil qualifies automatically as the host country.

After a travel day on Friday, the U.S. Men will face Russia (3-4) for a second time on Saturday (6/17) at 11:25 a.m. ET in Lodz, Poland. The match will be shown live on and at 6:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN. Russia defeated host Poland on Thursday, 3-0.

Outside hitter Taylor Sander was named match MVP after finishing with 12 points on nine kills, two blocks and one ace. He was also strong on defense with four digs and 10 excellent receptions.

“That’s a big win for us,” Sander told the FIVB. “We’re still getting better. I think Ben Patch did an amazing job tonight for us.”

Opposite Patch led all scorers with 24 points on a match-high 21 kills and a match-high three blocks. Middle blocker David Smith totaled 10 points on seven kills, two blocks and one ace.

The U.S. Men cut their team errors in half from their previous match against France, finishing with 15 while Iran struggled with 25. The United States led in kills (50-34) and blocks (12-5) and the teams were tied in aces (3-3).

U.S. setter Micah Christenson helped his team to a .448 hitting efficiency while Iran finished at .188.

Libero Erik Shoji was credited with eight digs, one of which landed for a point after outside hitter T.J. DeFalco made a tremendous save out of bounds, Shoji passed it over and Iran let it drop.

In the third set, the United States led 11-6. Iran came back to tie it at 16-16 and went on to lead 22-18. Iran took set point at 24-20 on a kill. Smith responded with a kill and Iran sent its next hit out of bounds. Patch scored off the block to make it 24-23 and Smith served an ace to tie the score.

Smith’s next serve hit the net to give Iran another set point at 25-24, but Sander held it off with a kill. A kill from Jeff Jendryk gave the U.S. its first match point, but Iran blocked Patch. The U.S. took match points at 27-26 and 28-27. At 28-28, Patch scored off the block and Smith finished off the match with a kill.

U.S. Starters vs. Iran
Outside hitters: Taylor Sander and T.J. DeFalco
Middle blockers: David Smith and Jeff Jendryk
Opposite: Ben Patch
Setter: Micah Christenson
Libero: Erik Shoji

U.S. Statistics vs. Iran
Kills: Patch 21, Sander 9, Jendryk 7, Smith 7, DeFalco 6
Blocks: Patch 3, Sander 2, Jendryk 2, Smith 2, Christenson 2, DeFalco 1
Aces: DeFalco 1, Smith 1, Sander 1
Digs: E Shoji 8, Patch 5, Sander 4, Christenson 3, DeFalco 3, Muagututia 1, Smith 1

2017 FIVB World League
June 15 in Katowice, Poland 

U.S. Men’s Roster

3. Taylor Sander (OH, 6-4, Huntington Beach, Calif., BYU)
4. Jeff Jendryk (MB, 6-10, Wheaton, Ill., Loyola of Chicago)
7C. Kawika Shoji (S, 6-3, Honolulu, Hawaii, Stanford)
9. Jake Langlois (OH, 6-10, San Jose, Calif., BYU)
11. Micah Christenson (S, 6-6, Honolulu, Southern California)
13. Dan McDonnell (MB, 6-6, Glendale, Ariz., UC Irvine)
14. Ben Patch (Opp, 6-8, Provo, Utah, BYU)
15. Carson Clark (Opp, 6-6, Santa Barbara, Calif., UC Irvine)
17. TJ DeFalco (OH, 6-5, Huntington Beach, Calif., Long Beach State)
18. Garrett Muagututia (OH, 6-5, Oceanside, Calif., UCLA)
19. Taylor Averill (MB, 6-7, San Jose, Calif., Hawaii)
20. David Smith (MB, 6-7, Saugus, Calif., UC Irvine)
21. Dustin Watten (L, 6-0, Long Beach, Calif., Long Beach State)
22. Erik Shoji (L, 6-0, Honolulu, Hawaii, Stanford)

Head Coach: John Speraw
Team Leader: Mike Wall
Assistant Coaches: Matt Fuerbringer and Robert Neilson
Sports Psychologist: Andrea Becker
Technical Coordinator: Nate Ngo
Athletic Trainer: Aaron Brock
Strength Coach: Tim Pelot
Consultant Coach: Anton Brams

TV Schedule and Results

Date and OpponentResultLocationTV (all times EDT)
June 2SerbiaL (25-18, 23-25, 25-20, 25-21)Novi Sad, SerbiaJune 2: 9:30-11:30 p.m. NBCSN
June 3CanadaL (23-25, 25-19,18-25, 25-23, 15-11)Novi Sad, SerbiaJune 3: 3-5 p.m. NBCSN
June 4BelgiumL (25-23, 25-16, 22-25, 28-26)Novi Sad, SerbiaJune 4: 6-8 p.m. UniHD
June 9ItalyW (25-22, 25-23, 25-23)Pau, FranceJune 9: 6-8 p.m. NBCSN
June 10RussiaW (25-20, 25-22, 25-22)Pau, FranceJune 10: 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. UniHD
June 11FranceL (25-20, 18-25, 25-22, 25-21)Pau, FranceJune 11: 3-4:30 p.m. NBCSN
June 15IranW (25-17, 25-22, 30-28)Katowice, PolandJune 15: 12-2 p.m.. NBCSN
June 17RussiaLodz, PolandJune 17: 6:30-8:30 p.m. NBCSN
June 18PolandLodz, PolandJune 18: 6-8 p.m. NBCSN
July 4Final RoundCuritiba, BrazilTBD: UniHD
July 5Final RoundCuritiba, BrazilTBD: UniHD
July 6Final RoundCuritiba, BrazilTBD: UniHD
July 7Final RoundCuritiba, BrazilTBD: UniHD