Win over Serbia Puts U.S. Men in Final Round

By BJ Evans | July 06, 2014, 10 p.m. (ET)

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (July 6, 2014) – The U.S. Men’s National Team came through in the clutch on Sunday, qualifying for the FIVB World League Final Round by defeating Serbia, 25-21, 20-25, 27-25, 25-20 on Sunday in Beograd, Serbia.

U.S. Men defeat Serbia
The U.S. Men celebrate their victory over Serbia on Sunday.

The U.S. Men crushed the Final Round hopes of the Serbian team and the 7,600 fans in attendance by winning Pool B with a 9-3 match record and 24 points. Serbia finished third in Pool B with a 7-5 record and 20 points. Russia will take the second Final Round slot from Pool B after sweeping Bulgaria on Sunday to finish with 24 points.

“It felt like a championship match to me, it was like playing for a title,” U.S. Head Coach John Speraw (Los Angeles) said. “We were more focused and intense than we were in Novi Sad. We came back, and even though Serbia played well tonight, we managed to win.”

U.S. Team Captain Sean Rooney (Wheaton, Ill.) added, “We made a few corrections to our performance from the last match. We played a lot better today, and we were more focused. We are really excited about moving to the next phase.”

Italy, which won Pool A, will automatically go to the Final Round by virtue of being the host country (the Final Round will be July 16-20 in Florence), so the second- and third-place teams, Iran and Brazil, will advance to the Final Round.

One more Final Round team will be determined at the Group 2 finals on July 12-13 in Sydney, Australia. The teams competing in Sydney will be Australia (host), Belgium (Pool C winner), France (Pool D winner) and Netherlands (Pool E winner).

On Sunday, Serbia led in kills (56-55), while the U.S. led in blocks (10-8) and aces (7-3).

U.S. opposite Matt Anderson (West Seneca, N.Y.) led the U.S. Men with 19 points on 17 kills and two aces. Outside hitter Taylor Sander (Huntington Beach, Calif.) added 15 points on 11 attacks, two blocks and two aces.

Middle blockers Max Holt (Cincinnati, Ohio) and David Lee (Alpine, Calif.) each scored 13 points. Lee had a match-high three blocks to go with 10 kills. Holt had 11 kills and two blocks.

Rooney totaled eight points on four kills, two blocks and two aces. Setter Micah Christenson (Honolulu, Hawaii) scored four points on two attacks, one block and one ace. He was credited with 23 running sets and one fault on 90 attempts.

Libero Erik Shoji (Honolulu) was credited with five excellent receptions and three digs. Sander led in both categories with four digs and eight excellent receptions.

Speraw started Sander and Rooney at outside hitter, Lee and Holt at middle blocker, Anderson at opposite, Christenson at setter and Shoji at libero. Outside hitters Paul Lotman (Lakewood, Calif.) and Garrett Muagututia (Oceanside, Calif.) played as substitutes.

U.S. Men’s Roster for World League Matches in Serbia
No. Name (Position, Height, Hometown, College) 
1. Matt Anderson (OH, 6-9, West Seneca, N.Y., Penn State) 
2. Sean Rooney (OH, 6-10, Wheaton, Ill., Pepperdine)
3. Taylor Sander (OH, 6-4, Huntington Beach, Calif., BYU)
4. David Lee (MB, 6-8, Alpine, Calif., Long Beach State)
6. Paul Lotman (OH, 6-7, Lakewood, Calif., Long Beach State)
7. Kawika Shoji (S, 6-3, Honolulu, Hawaii, Stanford)
11. Micah Christenson (S, 6-6, Honolulu, Southern California)
12. Russell Holmes (MB, 6-8, Fountain Valley, Calif., BYU)
15. Carson Clark (Opp, 6-6, Santa Barbara, Calif., UC Irvine)
17. Max Holt (MB, 6-9, Cincinnati, Ohio, Penn State)
18. Garrett Muagututia (OH, 6-5, Oceanside, Calif., UCLA)
22. Erik Shoji (L, 6-0, Honolulu, Hawaii, Stanford)

Head Coach: John Speraw
Team Manager: Andrea Becker 
Assistant Coaches: Matt Fuerbringer and Mike Wall
Technical Coordinator: Anton Willert
Athletic Trainer: Aaron Brock

U.S. Men's Pool Play Results for the 2014 FIVB World League 
May 24: USA def Bulgaria, 19-25, 22-25, 27-25, 25-19, 15-12
May 25: USA def Bulgaria, 19-25, 25-22, 27-25, 25-17

June 6: USA def Russia, 25-17, 27-25, 20-25, 25-27, 15-12
June 7: USA def Russia, 25-19, 25-23, 25-17

June 13: USA def Serbia, 30-28, 25-20, 25-16 
June 14: USA def Serbia, 25-22, 25-12, 26-28, 23-25, 15-13

June 20: USA def Bulgaria, 20-25, 25-22, 25-16, 25-16
June 21: Bulgaria def USA, 24-26, 17-25, 25-14, 25-13, 15-12

June 27: USA def Russia, 25-18, 25-19, 25-27, 25-19, 21-19 
June 28: Russia def USA, 25-21, 25-19, 25-21

July 4: Serbia def U.S. Men, 25-21, 25-20, 25-17 
July 6: USA def Serbia, 25-21, 20-25, 27-25, 25-20

Final Round (Qualified!): July 16-20 in Florence, Italy

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