The U.S. men’s volleyball team is on the verge of a 12th Olympic appearance following a straight-sets win over South Korea in the FIVB Men’s Volleyball Intercontinental Olympic Qualification Tournament on Sunday in the Rotterdam, Netherlands.
Following a tournament-opening win over Belgium on Friday, the No. 2-ranked U.S. registered a 25-20, 25-21, 25-16 victory in the middle entry of the three-match tournament. The Americans now sit atop the rankings in Pool B with a 2-0 record and six points, followed by the host Netherlands with a 2-0 record and five points. The two will play at 10 a.m. E.T. on Sunday with the winner claiming the coveted berth at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.
The U.S. men have competed in every Olympic Games since 1984 and have won five Olympic medals, including bronze in 2016 in Rio.
Aaron Russell led the team in scoring with 12 points in the win against South Korea, and he was followed by Matt Anderson and Garrett Muagututia with nine each.
The U.S. closed out the first set 25-20 and faced a greater challenge by the South Koreans in the second. Production by middles Dave Smith and Jeff Jendryk would be key in the match, however, and Smith scored the last four points of the second set on kills to put the U.S. up 2-0.
Back to work in the third set, the U.S. scored the first two points and never trailed. Early in the set Jendryk had five kills and Smith six as the U.S. looked to close things out in straight sets. The men cruised through the final set with little resistance from No. 24 South Korea.
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.