In the middle of nuclear diplomacy, U.S. and Iranian volleyball teams faced off in Tehran in the Volleyball World League competition. In both matches, on June 19 and June 21, Iran’s national team defeated Team USA in three straight sets.
The Iranians bested the reigning champions in front of some 12,000 spectators in Azadi stadium. And many more watched the games live on state television, though the network muted the U.S. national anthem.
After the second match, U.S. coach John Speraw complimented the Iranian team.
“We got beat by a better volleyball team by significant margin. They outplayed us in every facet of the game: block, defense, passing, serving, and offense. So there is only one thing we can do, and that is to learn from this volleyball match to hope that we can improve. We are a team and have some physical gifts, some big players who can jump high and beat the ball, but we have to play the entire game much better if we hope to be as a team as well-coached and skilled as Iran.”
He also spoke about Iranian hospitality and the U.S.-Iran relationship.
“I think we are all aware that the portrait of the relationship between Iran and the United States is inaccurate in the media. Probably on both sides, my guess... it was a great trip and we look forward to coming here again. And I think we have much better understanding of what the environment is both inside the arena and outside.”