The U.S. men’s national volleyball team was unable to topple host France in its FIVB Volleyball World League match Sunday, but the Americans can take satisfaction from a successful weekend overall.
Team USA was going for a sweep of its three Pool F matches in Pau, France, but the undefeated hosts came away with a 3-1 victory with set scores of 25-20, 18-25, 25-22, 25-21.
France improved to 6-0 in league play, while the U.S. improved to 2-4 after dropping all three of their games last weekend. Team USA is ranked ninth overall.
Prior to Sunday’s match, the U.S. men defeated Italy and Russia in straight sets on Friday and Saturday, respectively. That earned the Americans six points in Pool F after recording just one point in the Pool B standings the previous weekend, when Team USA opened the season with losses to Serbia, Canada and Belgium.
Olympian Taylor Sander led the Americans in scoring Sunday with 25 points, and Benjamin Patch added 16. Stephen Boyer led France with 19 points.
Patch led the Americans in scoring in the previous two matches, with 17 points against Italy and 15 against Russia. Sander added 10 and 14, respectively.
Team USA was the stronger team at the net, with an 11-2 advantage in blocks, but the U.S. committed 41 errors to just 23 by France.
Sunday’s matchup pitted two of the previous three World League champions against each other — the U.S. captured the 2014 title while France won it in 2015. The Americans had won the most recent meeting between the teams, 3-1, in a preliminary match at the 2016 Olympic Games.
Team USA enters Pool H play Thursday against Iran in Katowice, Poland. The Americans will then face off against Russia and Poland next weekend in Lodz, Poland.
Thomas Neumann is a Florida-based writer and journalist who previously worked at ESPN and the San Diego Union-Tribune. He is a freelance contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.