The inaugural season of the FIVB Volleyball Nations League turned out twice as nice for Team USA.
The U.S. men’s national team completed a podium double for Team USA on Sunday when it defeated reigning Olympic champion Brazil to win the bronze medal and $300,000 in prize money in Lille, France. The podium finish came one week after the U.S. women won the gold medal in their tournament championship in Nanjing, China.
Two-time Olympian Matt Anderson, an outside hitter, was a force for the U.S. men, who won in a 25-21, 28-26, 28-26 sweep. He led the team in scoring over the entire tournament and scored 13 points on 11 kills on Sunday, all in the first two sets.
Aaron Russell, a 2016 Olympic bronze medalist, had a team-high 12 kills and scored 13 points. Taylor Sander, also a member of the 2016 Olympic team, had 10 points on 8 kills and 2 blocks.
The U.S. played strongly in Sunday’s match, totaling 41 spikes to Brazil’s 39. The Americans had seven of the match’s 10 blocks.
The U.S. won five of its final six sets in two days during Nations League play, losing only the fifth and deciding set in Saturday’s semifinal against France.
The U.S. had reached the six-team final round by winning 11 of 15 matches in the preliminary round. It defeated Poland and lost to Russia in the pool-play portion of the final round, then lost to France in five sets in the semifinals on Saturday. The team ended the tournament with a 13-6 record in VNL play.
Paul D. Bowker has been writing about Olympic sports since 1996, when he was an assistant bureau chief in Atlanta. He is sports editor of the Cape Cod Times and a freelance contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.