The U.S. men’s volleyball team answered strongly Sunday.
One day after having a five-game winning streak halted by Canada, the U.S. struck back with a dominating FIVB Volleyball Nations League victory on Sunday at the Sears Centre in Hoffman Estates, Illinois. The U.S. swept China to the tune of 25-20, 25-19 and 25-19.
The U.S. is ranked seventh with three matches left in its Nations League schedule, but the squad has already secured one of the six spots in the final round because it is the host country for the tournament, which begins July 10 in Chicago.
Taylor Sander, a 2016 Olympian, led the U.S. in Sunday’s match with 15 points on 12 kills, two blocks and an ace. Benjamin Patch had a team-high 14 kills. Five U.S. players had two blocks each.
“We’re a hard team to hit against. We’re big blockers,” Patch said on the NBCSN broadcast.
The U.S. won two of three matchups this weekend for the home crowd but fell in four sets to Canada on Saturday night by scores of 25-22, 22-25, 25-23 and 25-17. The U.S. topped Japan on Friday, 25-15, 25-19 and 25-19.
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Two-time Olympian Matt Anderson had 18 kills in the loss to Canada, but did not play Sunday.
The three-game sweeps of Japan and China were the first two of the season for the U.S. After a slow start to the 2019 campaign, Team USA has won six of its last seven matches.
No. 8-ranked Canada topped Japan in five sets Sunday to remain in contention for the last spot in the final round.
The U.S. heads to Bulgaria next weekend for its final stop in Nations League play prior to the final round. Team USA faces Bulgaria on Friday, Serbia on Saturday and first-place Iran on Sunday in Plovdiv, Bulgaria.
Paul D. Bowker has been writing about Olympic sports since 1996, when he was an assistant bureau chief in Atlanta. He is a freelance contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.