USA Volleyball Features Bulgaria Hands U.S. ...

Bulgaria Hands U.S. Men First Loss

By BJ Evans | June 21, 2014, 11 p.m. (ET)

HOFFMAN ESTATES, Ill. (June 21, 2014) – Bulgaria used tough serving and passing to give the U.S. Men’s National Team its first 2014 FIVB World League loss on Saturday, 24-26, 17-25, 25-14, 25-13, 15-12, at the Sears Centre Arena in Hoffman Estates.

Max Holt and Sean Rooney
  From left, Kawika Shoji, Max Holt and Sean Rooney block.

The U.S. Men (7-1) must now head out on the road to play their final four World League matches in Serbia and Russia. Bulgaria got its first World League victory and improved to 1-7.

In an intense fifth set, the score was tied 9-9 when Bulgaria’s Nikolay Nikolov scored with an ace, followed by a U.S. passing error and a Todor Skrimov kill through the block to put Bulgaria up 12-9. The U.S. could not recover.

“I was happy with the way we responded when we were down 0-2,” U.S. Head Coach John Speraw (Los Angeles) said. “We have now done this a couple times. It’s good to see that we can do that. We didn’t execute very well from the service line in the fifth set. I think this match was so much about serving and passing.”

Team USA led in spikes (48-43), blocks (14-7) and digs (53-42). Bulgaria led in aces 12-10.

U.S. outside hitter Taylor Sander (Huntington Beach, Calif.) led all scorers for a second night with 18 points on 13 spikes, a match-high four blocks and one ace. Matt Anderson (West Seneca, N.Y.), who played at opposite and outside hitter, finished with 15 points on 10 attacks, two blocks and three aces.

Middle blocker Max Holt (Cincinnati, Ohio) totaled 13 points on six attacks, three blocks and four aces. Carson Clark (Santa Barbara, Calif.), who moved over to opposite for Anderson, scored eight points on eight attacks.

Outside hitter Sean Rooney (Wheaton, Ill.), who started the first two sets at outside hitter, finished with seven points on six kills and one ace. Middle blocker David Lee (Alpine, Calif.) scored six points on three attacks and three blocks.

Setter Kawika Shoji (Honolulu, Hawaii), who started the first two sets and came back in the fifth scored three points on two kills and one block. Setter Micah Christenson (Honolulu, Hawaii), who started the third, fourth and fifth sets, scored two points on one block and one ace.

Christenson was credited with 14 running sets on 37 attempts while Shoji had 12 running sets on 52 attempts

Skrimov led Bulgaria with 17 points on 12 attacks, one block and four aces. Tsvetan Sokolov added 14 points on 12 spikes and two aces.

The U.S. Men took an 8-7 lead at the first technical timeout (TTO). Later, with the U.S. still leading by one at 16-15, Rooney scored with a block and Holt followed with an ace to spark 4-0 run. The U.S. reached set point first at 24-19, but Bulgaria’s Yosifov scored with a kill and a block. The next U.S. attack went out and the U.S. lead was 24-22. Team USA called timeout, but Skrimov served for three straight aces to give Bulgaria the lead. Team USA’s final attack went out of bounds to give Bulgaria the win. Skrimov scored nine points in the set for Bulgaria.

A reinvigorated Bulgaria led the second set 8-4 at the first TTO on two straight aces by Nikolov. The European side increased the lead to 16-10 at the second TTO. With Bulgaria leading 21-13, the teams traded service errors until Bulgaria had won the set 25-17. Sokolov scored six points in the set for Bulgaria.

Coach John Speraw made big changes for Team USA in the third set, bringing in Christenson to set, moving Anderson to outside hitter for Rooney and starting Clark at opposite. Team USA jumped to an 8-3 lead in the third set and increased it to 17-6. Bulgaria never threatened. Anderson had seven points in the set, Sander had six and Holt scored five for the U.S.

The fourth set was tied 9-9 when the U.S. used a 15-3 run, including service runs from Sander and Lee, to reach set point at 24-12. Bulgaria held off the loss with a tip by Aleksiev, but a net serve won the set for Team USA.

U.S. Men’s Roster for World League Matches in Hoffman Estates, Ill.
No. Name (Position, Height, Hometown, College) 
1. Matt Anderson (OH, 6-9, West Seneca, N.Y., Penn State) 
2. Sean Rooney (OH, 6-10, Wheaton, Ill., Pepperdine)
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)
11. Micah Christenson (S, 6-6, Honolulu, Southern California)
12. Russell Holmes (MB, 6-8, Fountain Valley, Calif., BYU)
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)
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
Athletic Trainer: Aaron Brock

U.S. Men's Schedule for the 2014 FIVB World League 
May 24: USA def Bulgaria, 19-25, 22-25, 27-25, 25-19, 15-12
May 25: USA def Bulgaria, 19-25, 25-22, 27-25, 25-17

June 6: USA def Russia, 25-17, 27-25, 20-25, 25-27, 15-12
June 7: USA def Russia, 25-19, 25-23, 25-17

June 13: USA def Serbia, 30-28, 25-20, 25-16 
June 14: USA def Serbia, 25-22, 25-12, 26-28, 23-25, 15-13

June 20: USA def Bulgaria, 20-25, 25-22, 25-16, 25-16
June 21: Bulgaria def USA, 24-26, 17-25, 25-14, 25-13, 15-12

June 27-28: U.S. Men at Kaliningrad, Russia (Yantarny)

July 4: U.S. Men at Novi Sad, Serbia (SPC Vojvodina)
July 6: U.S. Men at Beograd, Serbia (Hala Pionir)

Final Round (must qualify): July 16-20 in Florence, Italy

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Matt Anderson

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Micah Christenson

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Carson Clark

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Russell Holmes

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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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Sean Rooney

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Taylor Sander

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Erik Shoji

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Kawika Shoji