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U.S. Men Hold off Belgium

By BJ Evans | Aug. 31, 2014, 5:59 p.m. (ET)

KRAKOW, Poland (Aug. 31, 2014) – It was not always pretty, but the U.S. Men’s National Volleyball Team held on to defeat Belgium, 25-21, 17-25, 25-16, 21-25, 15-11 on Sunday at Krakow Arena.

U.S. triple block
  Micah Christenson (11) and Max Holt (17) block against 
  Belgium's Sam Deroo.

The match was the first Pool D contest for both teams. The U.S. men will be back in action on Tuesday when they will play Iran (1-0) at 7 a.m. ET. Iran defeated Italy on Sunday, 25-16, 23-25, 25-21, 25-22.  (U.S. World Championship matches will be shown LIVE on BeIN Sports TV and online. Check your local listings for more information.)

“This match didn’t surprise me at all,” U.S. Head Coach John Speraw (Los Angeles) said. “The first reason is because… I have a great deal of respect for the Belgium players and the system they run. They have a lot of depth. They have a lot of players that can come off the bench and do well.

“The second reason I wasn’t surprised is that the first match is funny. I think both of us (the U.S. and Belgium) think we will play better as the tournament goes on.”

U.S. outside hitter Taylor Sander (Huntington Beach, Calif.) led all scorers with 24 points on 22 kills, one block and one ace.

“Belgium is a good team and they played like it,” Sander said. “We didn’t always play as well as we can.”

Matt Anderson (West Seneca, N.Y.), who started at opposite and moved to the outside hitter role for the fifth set, scored 14 points on 14 attacks.

Speraw said the connection between Anderson and setter Micah Christenson (Honolulu, Hawaii) was something the team would need to work on.

“It was a good connection through World League,” Speraw said. “We tried to increase the speed. But Matt had to leave the team 3-4 days this past week and maybe that hurt. We didn’t look good at that connection.”

Overall, the U.S. led in kills (58-47) while Belgium led in blocks (10-6) and aces (6-5). The U.S. led in digs (40-28), paced by Anderson with eight and libero Erik Shoji (Honolulu, Hawaii) with seven. Shoji was also credited with 11 excellent receptions.

Among other U.S. scorers, middle blocker Max Holt (Cincinnati, Ohio) scored 11 points on a match-high three blocks, a match-high three aces and five kills. Middle blocker David Lee (Alpine, Calif.) added 10 points on eight kills and two blocks.

Outside hitter Garrett Muagututia (Seaside, Calif.), who started the first two sets, scored five points on five kills. Outside hitter Tony Ciarellli (Huntington Beach, Calif.), who started the third and fourth sets, scored four points on four attacks. Christenson was credited with 58 running sets and no faults on 88 attempts.

 After splitting the first two sets with Belgium the U.S. Men were tied with the European side, 4-4 in the fifth set when Sander scored on three straight kills. A Belgian hitting error made it 8-4 and Belgium never recovered.

U.S. Roster for the FIVB World Championship
No. Name (Position, Height, Hometown, College) 
1. Matt Anderson (OH/Opp, 6-9, West Seneca, N.Y., Penn State) 
3. Taylor Sander (OH, 6-4, Huntington Beach, Calif., BYU)
4. David Lee (MB, 6-8, Alpine, Calif., Long Beach State)
6. Paul Lotman (OH, 6-7, Lakewood, Calif., Long Beach State)
7. Kawika Shoji (S, 6-3, Honolulu, Hawaii, Stanford)
10. Tony Ciarelli (OH, 6-6, Huntington Beach, Calif., USC)
11. Micah Christenson (S, 6-6, Honolulu, Southern California) 
15. Carson Clark (Opp, 6-6, Santa Barbara, Calif., UC Irvine)
17. Max Holt (MB, 6-9, Cincinnati, Ohio, Penn State)
18. Garrett Muagututia (OH, 6-5, Oceanside, Calif., UCLA)
19. Alfee Reft (L, 5-10, Oxnard, Calif., Hawaii)
20. David Smith (MB, 6-7, Saugus, Calif., UC Irvine)
21. Nick Vogel (MB, 6-9, San Diego, Calif., UCLA)
22. Erik Shoji (L, 6-0, Honolulu, Hawaii, Stanford)

Head Coach: John Speraw
Team Manager: Andrea Becker 
Assistant Coaches: Matt Fuerbringer and Mike Wall
Technical Coordinator: Anton Willert
Consultant Coaches: Tyler Hildebrand, Kathy DeBoer, Tim Pelot 
Athletic Trainer: Aaron Brock 
Doctors: David Dyck and Christopher Lee

2014 FIVB World Championship Pool D
Puerto Rico

2014 FIVB World Championship Schedule – Pool D
Kraków, Poland (all times ET)
View the entire World Championship schedule

Aug. 31
Iran def Italy, 25-16, 23-25, 25-21, 25-22
USA def Belgium, 25-21, 17-25, 25-16, 21-25
France def Puerto Rico, 25-23, 25-22, 26-24

Sept. 2
7 a.m. USA vs Iran
10:30 a.m. Belgium vs Puerto Rico
2:15 p.m. France vs Italy

Sept. 4
7 a.m. Puerto Rico vs USA
10:30 a.m. Iran vs France
2:15 p.m. Italy vs Belgium

Sept. 6
7 a.m. USA vs France
10:30 a.m. Belgium vs Iran
2:15 p.m. Puerto Rico vs Italy

Sept. 7
7 a.m. France vs Belgium
10:30 a.m. Iran vs Puerto Rico
2:15 p.m. Italy vs USA

Second Round: Sept. 10-15 in Łódź or Bydgoszcz
Third Round: Sept. 16-19 in Łódź or Katowice
Final Round: Sept. 20-21 in Łódź or Katowice

Related Athletes

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Matt Anderson

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Micah Christenson

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Carson Clark

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Max Holt

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David Lee

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Paul Lotman

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Garrett Muagututia

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Taylor Sander

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Erik Shoji

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Kawika Shoji

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David Smith