Aaron Russell of USA serving.
Aaron Russell of the U.S. Men's National Team recorded seven aces in win over Iran

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (June 23, 2023) – The U.S. Men’s National Team defeated Iran 3-0 (25-22, 25-18, 25-23) for its third consecutive victory in Week 2 of the Volleyball Nations League (VNL) preliminary round in Rotterdam, Netherlands.

The U.S. Men (6-1) return to the court at 4 a.m. PT to face the world’s top-ranked team, Poland (5-1).

The U.S. Men finished the match with 13 service aces, registering at least four in each set. Outside hitter Aaron Russell led the way with seven aces, and outside hitter Thomas Jaeschke and middle blocker David Smith each added a pair.

Opposite Matt Anderson and middle blocker Taylor Averill each totaled a team-high 13 points. Anderson had a .500 hitting efficiency with 13 kills and two errors in 22 total attacks. Averill hit a phenomenal .769 with 10 kills and no errors in 13 attacks, adding two blocks and a service ace. Setter Micah Christenson led the team to an overall hitting efficiency of .352.

“We practice hard together. These guys are amazing professional volleyball players. They play all year long and they are starters,” libero Eric Shoji said about the team’s ability to put multiple lineups on the floor and be successful after contributing six digs and four successful receptions. “We are comfortable with anyone going in there and today was a great win.”

The U.S. recorded four service aces in each of the first two sets for a 2-0 advantage. Russell served three consecutive aces midway through the second set to extend the lead to seven, 16-9.

Iran jumped out to a 5-2 lead in the third set, but the U.S. responded with four points in a row following a timeout by Head Coach John Speraw. Iran regained three-point leads at 16-13 and 20-17, but the U.S. finished the match on an 8-3 run.

“Iran is a great team. They pushed us in the third set,” Shoji stated. “We just wanted to stay with them point by point and catch them at the end, which is what we did.”

Volleyball Nations League is the world’s premier annual international indoor volleyball tournament. The top 16 teams in the world play four matches a week for three weeks of preliminary competition. The top eight teams at the end of the preliminaries will go to the Final Round.

The U.S. Men will host the third round of preliminary play in Anaheim, California, on July 4-9.

Get tickets for the Anaheim matches at volleyballworld.com

U.S. Men’s National Team Roster for Week 2
2023 Volleyball Nations League

No. Player (Position, Height, Hometown, College, USAV Region)
Matt Anderson (Opp, 6-10, West Seneca, N.Y., Penn State, Western Empire)
Aaron Russell (OH, 6-9, Ellicott City, Md., Penn State, Chesapeake)
Jeff Jendryk (MB, 6-10, Wheaton, Ill., Loyola Univ. Chicago, Great Lakes)
T.J. DeFalco (OH, 6-5, Huntington Beach, Calif., Long Beach State Univ., Southern California)
Jake Hanes (OPP, 6-10, Orland Park, Ill., Ohio State Univ., Great Lakes)
10 Kyle Dagostino (L, 5-9, Tampa, Florida, Stanford Univ., Florida)
11 Micah Christenson (S, 6-5, Honolulu, Hawaii, Univ. of Southern California, Hawaii)
12 Max Holt (MB, 6-10, Cincinnati, Ohio, Penn State, Ohio Valley)
16 Josh Tuaniga (S, 6-3, Long Beach, Calif., Long Beach State Univ., Southern California)
17 Thomas Jaeschke (OH, 6-6, Wheaton, Ill., Loyola Univ. Chicago, Great Lakes)
19 Taylor Averill (MB, 6-7, San Jose, Calif., Univ. of Hawaii, Northern California)
20 David Smith (MB, 6-7, Saugus, Calif., Univ. of California Irvine, Southern California)
22 Erik Shoji (L, 6-0, Honolulu, Hawaii, Stanford Univ., Hawaii)
23 Cody Kessel (OH, 6-5, Colorado Springs, Colo., Princeton Univ., Rocky Mountain)

Head Coach: John Speraw
Assistant Coaches: Matt FuerbringerJavier Weber
Performance Analyst and Technical Coordinator: Nate Ngo
Athletic Trainer: Aaron Brock
Team Manager: David Dantes
Team Doctor: James Suchy

U.S. Men’s Schedule for the 2023 VNL
All matches will be broadcast on volleyballworld.tv

Week 1 in Ottawa, Canada
June 7 USA def Netherlands 3-0 (25-19, 25-23, 25-21)
June 8 USA def Italy 3-0 (25-15, 25-18, 25-19)
June 10 USA def Canada 3-0 (25-22, 25-20, 25-20)
June 11 Brazil def USA 3-1 (19-25, 25-21, 15-25, 21-25)

Week 2 in Rotterdam, Netherlands
(All times PT)
June 20 USA def Serbia 3-1 (22-25, 25-19, 25-19, 25-21)
June 21 USA def China 3-0 (28-26, 25-22, 25-18)
June 23 USA def Iran 3-0 (25-22, 25-18, 25-23)
June 24 at 4 a.m. USA vs Poland

Week 3 in Anaheim, California, USA
July 5 at 6:30 p.m. USA vs Cuba
July 7 at 6:30 p.m. USA vs Argentina
July 8 at 6:30 p.m. USA vs France
July 9 at 6:30 p.m. USA vs Bulgaria