COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Sept. 23, 2018) – The U.S. Men’s National Team relied on its bench, which did not disappoint on Sunday as the United States swept Iran, 25-23, 26-24, 26-24 at the FIVB World Championship in Sofia, Bulgaria.

The U.S. Men improved to 8-0 and are the only team still undefeated at the World Championship. They had already qualified for the third round of Worlds, which begins on Sept. 26 in Turin, Italy. Joining the U.S. Men in the final six are Brazil, Italy, Poland, Russia and Serbia.

Iran (4-4) went into Sunday’s match knowing it would not advance.

The U.S. Men brought five middle blockers and three outside hitters to the World Championship. To give starters Taylor Sander and Aaron Russell a break, middle blocker Dan McDonnell was pressed into service on the outside on Sunday.

“I was really pleased with how we competed, even though we had already qualified for the finals,” U.S. Head Coach John Speraw said. “Dan McDonnell played great at outside for the first time since high school. I loved being able to run the double quick.”

McDonnell lit it up from the service line, finishing with a team-high three aces to add to three kills and one block.

Opposite Ben Patch led all scorers with 17 points on a match-high 13 kills and a match-high four blocks.

“It’s amazing that we’re going to Italy with eight wins,” Patch said. “Of course we want to win the World Championship, but our main goal is to win every single match, set and point.”

Overall, Iran led the U.S. Men in kills (35-34) while the U.S. led in blocks (12-4). The teams were even in aces (5-5) and in scoring errors (28-28).

The U.S. kill percentage was 52.3 behind setter Kawika Shoji. Iran’s was 46.1 behind setter Mir Saeid Marouflakrani.

“We played a lot of guys who haven’t played so much in the tournament,” said Shoji, who had two blocks in the match, including one for the final point. “For us, it was really an exciting match. We were ready and we wanted to improve. I think our focus was there. Our energy was there. It was fun to be able to play together.”

Outside hitter Jake Langlois scored 10 points on eight kills, one block and one ace. Middle blocker Jeff Jendryk added nine points on six kills, two blocks and one ace. Middle blocker Taylor Averill totaled six points on four kills and two blocks.

Outside hitters: Jake Langlois and Dan McDonnell
Middle blockers: Taylor Averill and Jeff Jendryk
Opposite: Ben Patch
Setter: Kawika Shoji
Libero: Dustin Watten

Kills: Patch 13, Langlois 8, Jendryk 6, Averill 4, McDonnell 3
Blocks: Patch 4, Jendryk 2, Averill 2, Shoji 2, McDonnell 1, Langlois 1
Aces: McDonnell 3, Langlois 1, Jendryk 1

U.S. Men’s World Championship Schedule
Sofia, Bulgaria
Sept. 21: USA def Canada, 25-17, 25-14, 21-25, 25-17
Sept. 22: USA def Bulgaria, 25-20, 25-20, 25-18
Sept. 23: USA v Iran, 25-23, 26-24, 26-24

Bari, Italy
Sept. 12: USA def Serbia, 15-25, 25-14, 21-25, 25-20, 15-20
Sept. 13: USA def Australia, 25-21, 25-20, 22-25, 23-25, 15-10
Sept. 15: USA def Russia, 25-23, 20-25, 25-23, 25-20
Sept. 16: USA def Cameroon, 25-18, 25-20, 25-14
Sept. 18: USA def Tunisia, 25-12, 25-18, 25-13