RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil (July 17, 2015) – It did it the hard way, but nevertheless, the U.S. Men’s National Team advanced to the semifinals of the FIVB World League with a 25-21, 25-22, 24-26, 25-20 win over France on Friday at the Maracanazinho stadium.
In the end, all three teams in World League Pool I finished 1-1 in matches, 4-4 in sets and with three points each. The tie-breaker was point differential, which put the U.S. Men first in the pool at 1.031. France finished second with a differential of 1.000 while Brazil finished third at .970 and will not advance to the semifinals. The United States will face Serbia (the second-place team from Pool J) in Saturday's first semifinal at 6 a.m. PT. The match will be shown live on the FIVB YouTube channel.
Had the U.S. Men won 3-0, the tie-breaker would not have been needed and the U.S. and Brazil would have advanced to the semifinals; a possibility that had Brazilian fans chanting “U-S-A” as it looked like the U.S. would win the third set.
The U.S. led the third set 17-12 and held match point at 24-23. But France scored three straight points to take the set. The Brazilian crowd quickly changed its allegiance to the French team and the U.S. Men were faced with a must-win situation. Beating France 3-2 would not be good enough to advance to the semifinals.
U.S. opposite Matt Anderson said his team worked to stay focused on each point.
“A mindset that we have been trying to teach each other and our team this entire time is to play each point as if it’s its own,” Anderson said. “No lead is too big for us.
“Another thing is to keep pushing when we have a lead to get more points.”
The United States led 13-9 in the fourth set. France pulled to within one at 13-12. The U.S. took a timeout and Anderson came back with a kill to spark a 3-0 run and the U.S. Men never led by less than two points after that.
“I’m proud of our team and their ability to come back after last night’s emotional loss to Brazil,” U.S. Head Coach John Speraw said. “It’s always difficult when you play the home team and lose. I thought we put a lot of emotional energy into the match. For us to regroup and come back and play that well was really gratifying.”
Anderson and outside hitter Taylor Sander led the U.S. with 19 points apiece. Anderson had 15 kills, two blocks and two aces. Sander scored on a match-high 18 kills and one block. Middle blocker David Smith had a team-high four blocks.
The U.S. led in blocks 10-7 and in kills 51-44. France led in aces 5-4. The U.S. serving was much improved from Thursday’s loss to Brazil. The U.S. committed 19 service errors against France as opposed to 25 against Brazil. In total, the U.S. scored on 34 French errors while committing 33.
Micah Christenson set the U.S. to a .314 hitting efficiency while France’s hitting efficiency was .196.
The loss broke France's 15-match World League winning streak.
Outside Hitters: Taylor Sander and Thomas Jaeschke
Middle Blockers: Max Holt and David Smith
Opposite: Matt Anderson
Setter: Micah Christenson
Libero: Erik Shoji
Kills: Sander 18, Anderson 15, Jaeschke 8, Holt 3, Christenson 3, Smith 3, Lotman 1
Blocks: Smith 4, Anderson 2, Christenson 2, Holt 1, Sander 1
Aces: Holt 2, Anderson 2
Digs: E Shoji 9, Holt 5, Sander 5, Christenson 5, Jaeschke 4, Anderson 4, Lotman 1, Lee 1, Smith 1
U.S. Roster for FIVB World League Final Round
July 15-19, 2015
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
No. Name (Position, Height, Hometown, College)
1. Matt Anderson (OH/OPP, 6-9, West Seneca, N.Y., Penn State)
2. Aaron Russell (OH, 6-9, Ellicott City, Md., 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)
9. Murphy Troy (Opp, 6-8, St. Louis, Mo., Southern California)
10. Thomas Jaeschke (OH, 6-6, Wheaton, Ill., Loyola)
11. Micah Christenson (S, 6-6, Honolulu, Southern California)
12. Russell Holmes (MB, 6-8, Fountain Valley, Calif., BYU)
17. Max Holt (MB, 6-9, Cincinnati, Ohio, Penn State)
20. David Smith (MB, 6-7, Saugus, Calif., UC Irvine)
21. Dustin Watten (L, 6-0, Long Beach, Calif., Long Beach State)
22. Erik Shoji (L, 6-0, Honolulu, Hawaii, Stanford)
|May 30||USA def Iran||25-19, 25-22, 23-25, 25-23||Los Angeles, Calif. | USC Galen Center|
|May 31||USA def Iran||25-16, 25-16, 20-25, 25-20||Los Angeles, Calif. | USC Galen Center|
|June 5||USA def Russia||25-18, 24-26, 25-15, 28-26||Long Beach, Calif. | the Walter Pyramid|
|June 6||USA def Russia||25-23, 25-21, 25-16||Long Beach, Calif. | the Walter Pyramid|
|June 12||USA def Poland||23-25, 25-23, 19-25, 25-22, 15-9||Hoffman Estates, Ill. | Sears Centre Arena|
|June 13||USA def Poland||23-25, 25-23, 25-15, 25-17||Hoffman Estates, Ill. | Sears Centre Arena|
|June 19||Iran def USA||25-19, 29-27, 25-20
||Tehran, Iran | Azadi Stadium|
|June 21||Iran def USA||25-20, 25-21, 25-19
|June 26||USA def Russia||25-21, 25-20, 25-19
|June 28||USA def Russia||25-23, 19-25, 25-23, 25-18
|July 3||Poland def USA||19-25, 25-22, 21-25, 25-20, 15-12
|July 4||USA def Poland||25-20, 25-21, 22-25, 25-23
|July 16||Brazil def USA||28-26, 22-25, 25-22, 27-25
||Rio de Janeiro
|July 17||USA def France||25-21, 25-22, 24-26, 25-20
||Rio de Janeiro
|July 18||USA v Serbia||Rio de Janeiro
|July 19||USA v Poland or France||Rio de Janeiro