U.S. Men Fight Back for 3-2 WL Win

By BJ Evans | May 23, 2014, 7:02 p.m. (ET)

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (May 23, 2014) – The U.S. Men’s National Team came back from two sets down and fought off two match points and beat host Bulgaria, 19-25, 22-25, 27-25, 25-19, 15-12 on Friday to open the 2014 FIVB World League before a crowd of 5,900 at the Palace of Culture and Sports in Varna.

U.S. Men's triple block
  Russell Holmes (12) and Taylor Sander block against Bulgaria.

It was the first time since 2008 that the U.S. Men have won their opening match of World League. The victory also ended a five-match World League losing streak for the United States, extending back to 2013.  The U.S. Men improved their overall record against Bulgaria in World League to 4-8. The two teams will play again on Saturday at 10 a.m. PT.

“I am pretty satisfied with the way team played today and with the place the team is now, (compared to) one year ago,” U.S. Head Coach John Speraw (Los Angeles). “We were a little bit lucky winning the third set, but then we proved our victory by the end.”

After trailing Bulgaria for most of the match in blocks, the U.S. Men ended up leading the category 13-9. Bulgaria led in attacks 55-54 and the teams tied in aces, 5-5. The U.S. took advantage of 36 Bulgaria errors while the European side scored 37 points on U.S. miscues.

TICKETS

  • June 6-7 USA vs Russia at Long Beach, Calif.: longbeachstate.com/WL, Phone: 562-985-4949
  • June 13-14 USA vs Serbia at Chicago: ticketmaster.com, Phone: 800-745-3000
  • June 20-21 USA vs Bulgaria at Hoffman Estates, Ill.: searscentre.com, Phone: 888-SEARS-TIX
  • Group Ticket Discounts for Serbia and Bulgaria matches: Call 847-649-2368

Matt Anderson (West Seneca, N.Y.), who started at opposite for the U.S. Men, led his team with 24 points on 20 kills, two blocks and two aces. Taylor Sander (Huntington Beach, Calif.), making his World League debut at outside hitter, score 20 points on 15 kills, three blocks and two aces. Outside hitter Reid Priddy (Richmond, Va.) added 12 points on nine attacks and three blocks.

Middle blocker Max Holt (Cincinnati, Ohio) contributed seven points on five attacks, one block and one ace. Middle blocker Russell Holmes (Fountain Valley, Calif.) scored four points on four kills while middle blocker David Lee (Alpine, Calif.) had four points on one kill and three blocks.

Setter Micah Christenson (Honolulu, Hawaii), who was also making his World League debut, added one point and set the U.S. Men to a 45.1 kill percent and 36.9 hitting efficiency. He was credited with 40 running sets and one fault on 58 attempts.

U.S. libero Erik Shoji (Honolulu) was credited with eight digs and 16 excellent receptions to lead the team in both categories.

Bulgaria’s Tsvetan Sokolov led all scorers with 25 points on 21 kills, three blocks and one ace.

Speraw started Anderson at opposite, Priddy and Sander at outside hitter, Holt and Holmes at middle blocker, Christenson at setter and Shoji at libero. Lee substituted for Holt in the second set and started the rest of the match. Lotman subbed for Sander in the second set, but Sander returned to start the third. Holt replaced Holmes in the third set and started the rest of the match. Paul Lotman (Lakewood, Calif.) substituted briefly for Sander again in the third set. Kawika Shoji (Honolulu) played as a serving substitute.

Bulgaria dominated the first set and then held off a late U.S. comeback in the second. In the third set, the U.S. men fought off match points at 24-23 and 25-24. A block by Lee tied the score at 25-25 and a Bulgaria hitting error gave the U.S. Men their first set point. Bulgaria called timeout. But Sander, making his World League debut, won the set with an ace.

The fourth-set score was tied 9-9 when the U.S. went ahead 12-9 on two straight Bulgaria errors and a kill from Priddy. Bulgaria could not come back.

The U.S. Men jumped ahead in the fifth set 3-0 on Anderson’s kill and blocks by Lee and Anderson. Bulgaria kept the score close and was within one at 11-10 when the U.S. scored on an Anderson kill and Holt block to lead 13-10. The U.S. reached match point on a Sander back-row attack at 14-11, but Sander’s next attack went out of bounds. The U.S. called timeout and won the match on Bulgaria’s hitting error.

U.S. World League Roster
May 23-24 in Varna, Bulgaria

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)
8. Reid Priddy (OH, 6-4, Richmond, Va., Loyola Marymount)
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)
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
Consultant Coach: Erik Sullivan and Mike Sealy
Athletic Trainer: Aaron Brock
Team Doctor: William Stetson

U.S. Mens Schedule for the 2014 FIVB World League

May 24-25: U.S. Men at Varna, Bulgaria (Palace of Culture and Sports)
May 24: USA def Bulgaria, 19-25, 22-25, 27-25, 25-19, 15-12

June 6-7: Russia at U.S. Men at Long Beach, Calif. (Walter Pryamid)
Tickets: longbeachstate.com/WL, Phone: 562-985-4949

June 13-14: Serbia at U.S. Men in Chicago (UIC Pavilion)
Tickets: ticketmaster.com, Phone: 800-745-3000

June 20-21: Bulgaria at U.S. Men in Hoffman Estates (Sears Centre Arena)
Tickets: searscentre.com, Phone: 888-SEARS-TIX

June 27-28: U.S. Men at Kaliningrad, Russia (Yantarny)

July 4: U.S. Men at Novi Sad, Serbia (SPC Vojvodina)

July 6: U.S. Men at Beograd, Serbia (Hala Pionir)

Final Round (must qualify): July 16-20 in Florence, Italy


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