The U.S. Men’s Volleyball Team swept the weekend’s series and vaulted from fourth to second place in the FIVB Volleyball Nations League standings, finishing off the perfect week with a win over Iran on Sunday, 29-27, 25-20, 26-24, in Hoffman Estates, Illinois.
Playing on home soil, Team USA also defeated Poland, which was No. 1 in the league last week, and Serbia. The U.S. men now head to Italy for the final three games of the preliminary round, and will face top-ranked France, Russia and the host nation. France and the U.S. each have 10 wins and two losses, though France has 30 points to Team USA’s 29.
Team USA has not lost a set in the United States since July 2016. The Americans sit in second place in the standings and their performance this weekend certainly helped their chances of finishing among the top six teams that will advance to the final round beginning July 4.
Opposite Matt Anderson capped off a strong weekend, leading the team with three aces, 13 spikes and two blocks against Iran.
The men, many of whom were part of the team that won bronze at the Olympic Games Rio 2016, moved into second place in the standings with a 25-20, 25-19, 25-19 win over Poland on Saturday. Poland came into the weekend in first place, but lost to Iran on Friday, and was in second place before the loss to the U.S.
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Outside hitter Aaron Russell, who had the winning ace, led the team in scoring for the second day in a row with 14 points on a match-high 11 kills. Anderson scored 12 points on 10 kills, one block and one ace and middle blocker Max Holt scored 11 points.
The men opened the weekend with a 25-22, 25-16, 25-14 win over Serbia but lost outside hitter Thomas Jaeschke, who was the youngest member of the 2016 Olympic team, to injury. He suffered what coach John Speraw called a “significant” knee injury in the third set and is expected to be out for “quite a while.” The U.S. squad, which started with an all-Olympian lineup, on Friday prevailed against Serbia nonetheless, and T.J. DeFalco stepped up in Jaeschke’s absence.
Russell scored 14 points and Anderson scored 13 in the win.
Karen Price is a reporter from Pittsburgh who has covered Olympic sports for various publications. She is a freelance contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.