COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Oct. 9, 2019) – Except for a second-set hiccup, the U.S. Men’s National Team had little trouble beating Iran, 25-18, 22-25, 25-18, 25-12 on Wednesday at the FIVB World Cup in Hiroshima, Japan.

The U.S. Men (5-1) will face undefeated Brazil (6-0) at 2 a.m. PT on Thursday. It’s a must-win match if the United States hopes to defend its World Cup title.

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The U.S. Men dominated the match in kills (52-37), blocks (9-2) and aces (9-4). But Iran scored 30 points off errors while committing 27. Errors contributed to the second-set loss.

“Iran always gives us some kind of problem,” said U.S. libero Erik Shoji. “They’re a very good team. They play all the way through and don’t give up.

“They played better in the second set. Our level didn’t stay up. Mentally, we really wanted three points today and we really came back strong.”

Teams earn three points for 3-0 and 3-1 victories.

Shoji said the team is looking forward to playing Brazil.

“We always have great games against them. It always seems to be a big moment,” Shoji said. “We played in the VNL semifinals against them this year and won in five. They’re tough. They’re at full strength almost and so are we.”

Iran had only 12 players on its roster against the United States and did not play star setter Saeid Marouf. Javad Karimisouchelmaei set for Iran, which finished with a 40.7 kill percentage. The U.S. kill percentage was 55.9.

The Penn State triumvirate led the U.S. in scoring. Outside hitter Aaron Russell led all scorers with 18 points on 15 kills, two blocks and one ace. Opposite Matt Anderson added 12 kills, one block and two aces. Middle blocker Max Holt had 11 points on eight kills, one block and two aces.

Setter Micah Christenson finished with a match-high three blocks.

Outside hitters: Aaron Russell and Garrett Muagututia
Middle blockers: Max Holt and David Smith
Opposite: Matt Anderson
Setter: Micah Christenson
Libero Erik Shoji
Substitutes: Josh Tuaniga (S), Ben Patch (Opp), T.J. DeFalco (OH), Mitch Stahl (MB), Michael Saeta (SS)

Kills: Russell 15, Anderson 12, Holt 8, Muagututia 7, Smith 6, DeFalco 2, Stahl 1, Patch 1
Blocks: Christenson 3, Russell 2, Anderson 1, Holt 1, Muagututia 1, Patch 1
Aces: Anderson 2, Holt 2, Russell 1, Muagututia 1, Smith 1, Stahl 1, Christenson 1