(R) Matt Anderson spikes the ball at the FIVB World Championship on Sept. 30, 2018 in Torino, Italy
The U.S. men’s volleyball team finished off its remarkable run in the FIVB Men’s World Championships with a victory in the bronze medal game on Sunday.
Led by two-time Olympian Matt Anderson’s 29-point performance, the U.S. defeated Serbia in the third-place match in Torino, Italy, by scores of 23-25, 25-17, 32-30, 25-19. The U.S. won a medal in the worlds for the first time since 1994, when it also won the bronze medal. It is the third world championship medal for the men's team in U.S. history.
After dropping the first set to Serbia, the U.S. responded by winning the next three sets to capture its first world medal in 24 years. The extended third set was the match-breaker for the U.S.
Anderson, an outside hitter, had 23 kills and 2 blocks among his 29 points. Aaron Russell, a 2016 Olympian, had 14 kills and 16 points, and two-time Olympian David Smith had a team-high three blocks.
Sunday’s victory was the third straight for the U.S. over Serbia this year. The men began the world championships with a five-set win over Serbia, and also won in straight sets in a match during the Volleyball Nations League.
This was a historic tournament for the U.S. men. Stacked with eight bronze medalists from the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team, they won their first nine matches in the tournament for the first time in U.S. world championship history. They didn’t lose until facing 2016 Olympic gold medalist Brazil on Friday. By that point, however, Team USA had already qualified for the semifinal round.
The U.S. missed out on a trip to the championship game after a five-set loss to Poland in the semifinals on Saturday, a match that went past midnight in Italy.
Team USA defeated Serbia, Australia, Russia, Cameroon and Tunisia in the first round of the tournament, then beat Canada, Bulgaria and Iran in the second round to reach the final six.
The U.S. reached the final six of the worlds for just the fifth time. And for the third time in 15 trips to the world championship, the men won a medal.
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.